How to Choose the Right Chart

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INTRODUCTION

Every chart is trying to tell a story about your data, but people often run into problems trying to tell that story. Sometimes it’s incomplete, other times it’s misleading and often it’s confusing or just plain wrong.

One of the most common issues when creating a visualization is not understanding the best ways to display your data. Especially if you are just getting started creating charts or if you have existing data sets that you seek to visualize. It’s natural for me to see a data set or a have a goal in mind and know which chart to rely on, but if you are just beginning to visualize your data, basic mistakes are quite common.

Because there can be so many different ways to visualize your data, it helps to have a basic guideline to follow. This graphic breaks down the most basic usage elements of any visualization (Comparison, Distribution, Composition, and Relationship) and it allows you to follow a clearer path to map your data to the right visualization.

Remember, the most important aspects to choose your chart are your Data Type , how do you want to show your data , how do you want to use them (compare, show trends, geolocalization..etc) and  what do you want to tell about these data.

For more information about data visualization take a look what I consider to be these Four Pillars of Mapping Data to Visualizations in greater depth.