Once you’ve collected your data, and made sense of it, then it’s now time to communicate your findings and results with its intended audience. But sometimes, it can be difficult to explain an acquired data to a group, especially when they possess little to no knowledge regarding the subject matter being presented. The best way to transmit information to viewers is through a widely-used data visualization tool — charts. If you put up a general chart along with your presentation, suddenly, everything begins to make sense!
Simple charts have been used across many different fields in business, education, and design. This is great for portraying comparison, composition, distribution, or even the relationship between the given variables. However, selecting the right chart type to use can be very confusing for many researchers and data analysts, which is why it’s important to get an in-depth look at how these chart types function and how they may be utilized to convey data in such a way that is understandable to the average individual.
Today, charts are used for a variety of purposes across different fields and industries.
But where did these charts come from and how did they come to be?
Many of the charts used for data visualization were derived from an original design of the political economist, William Playfair, along with Swiss polymath Johann Heinrich Lambert, during the 1780s. However, some sources have also pointed to Frenchman, Nicole Oresme, for using a bar chart to plot the velocity of a continuously accelerating object against time in the 14th century publication, The Latitude of Forms. It’s interesting to know that around 300 years before Sir Isaac Newton first introduced the laws of motion, another philosopher had already grasped the concept of velocity and acceleration. You may also see price chart examples & samples.
Playfair was also known for utilizing bar charts to showcase the imports and exports of Scotland in his publications. This is said to be the very first example of numerical data being divided into separate sections and then plotted as bars. This instance credited Playfair for the invention of the widely-used bar chart. As for the origin of the line chart, Playfair’s Commercial and Political Atlas exhibited the imports and exports of Britain and other countries with the said chart. This helped strengthen the fundamental use of visual data for comparing a large number of variables with ease. You may also like monthly chart examples & samples.
These days, charts and graphs have made it easier for us to incorporate valuable data into different forms of physical and digital publications. Technological advancement has even revolutionized the creation of charts through various software applications which enable users to create a chart by simply inputting a set of numbers and variables into the system. The 3D forms of the traditional chart types such as bar charts, waterfall, histogram, treemap, and sunburst models that have even been innovated by apps like MS Office and Excel. You may also check out chart note examples & samples.
Why do scientists and researchers use charts and graphs to inspect data?
People assume presenters use charts to appear smart and knowledgeable on a particular topic. Despite the facts given, charts can also make the presenter’s product or study look a lot better than that of a competitor. This can often accentuate the positive and mask the negative. And in some cases, these charts can conceal the fact that a presenter may not actually know what he or she is doing. You may also see food chart examples & samples.
But moving on to a more serious note, you can use charts for a number of purposes. If employed correctly, the chart can be used to make data seem a lot easier to understand by the average person. It is used as a visual representation of the results obtained from a study. This can greatly influence the public, which consists of visually-driven individuals, in better understanding the message being conveyed by the presenter.
For researchers to conduct a proper investigation based on cold, hard facts, information collected during data gathering must first be categorized and examined accordingly. This will help a researcher interpret what has been observed quickly and precisely. And because most of the data acquired by researchers are quantitative in form, charts and graphs serve as the perfect medium to organize information with ease. This can also simplify interpretations for one to draw accurate conclusions from it. You may also like behavior chart examples & samples.
However, take note that a valid conclusion may only be attained depending on how the study was administered and whether the data was clearly interpreted or not.
Communicating the results of a study to its intended audience in such a way that is both professional and understandable is a vital skill that a researcher should possess. It can be difficult for listeners to fully grasp the information being delivered without a visual representation of such, especially when dealing with substantial data that words fail to explain distinctly. So even if you do generate amazing results with your study, if the report fails to capture this clearly, then it could eventually fall to the wayside. You may also see measurement chart examples & samples.
For this reason, it’s important for researchers to consider using charts to showcase data in a simplified form. This will help illustrate findings in a clear and concise manner for the report to be presentable and visually pleasing enough to an audience.
The greatest challenge with using charts is determining which chart to utilize for your study. Choosing the correct chart type to use would depend on your reason for using the chart in the first place. With a wide variety of charts available, it’s important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each type before selecting one to employ. You may also like wedding chart examples & samples.
This chart type is pretty self-explanatory. When comparing the relationship between two or more variables, you’d want to present them side by side. A comparison chart can help you point out the correlation or pattern shared between each given item.
The simplest, and probably the most straight-forward, method of comparing different categories of data with one another is through the use of the classic bar charts. From the name itself, this chart type features a series of bars of varying lengths that represent and are proportionate to a given value. With a quick glance, a person can easily identify how the items size up against one another through what has been displayed. You may also check out control chart examples & samples.
Bar charts are a universally-recognized chart type that can be used to show nearly any form of data, as long as they are used correctly. In the marketing industry, bar charts play a key role in presenting financial forecasts and outcomes, along with comparing any class of numeric value for business executives and other stakeholders to refer to.
Back in school, this was a common type of chart that teachers drew on blackboards to present statistics in economics and mathematics.
Line charts are ideal for differentiating gradual changes or trends within a given period of time, or even a particular correlation. These are one of the most frequently used chart types to ever exist, as it uses lines to demonstrate a continuous data set. Here, values are plotted on the chart to compare the behavior of items during a defined time span. Though this usually highlights the continuous flow of the values given, line charts still support single value comparisons with the help of data markers. This also serves as a great alternative for bar charts when the chart required in the report is of a smaller size. You may also see size chart examples & samples.
A stacked area chart is the perfect option for studies that require multiple line graphs to compare data. Each line presented in the chart symbolizes a distinct group, while the area filled below it is shaded a specific color for quick and easy comparison. This will allow researchers to track and compare accumulative data from various categories with a single graphical illustration. You may also like medical chart examples & samples.
Say for example, the simple survey you conducted for your research requires respondents to provide their age. The distribution chart would then help you visualize the age distribution among participants. This may also be done to draw comparisons between the given categories.
One good example of using a histogram to analyze results would be in an academic setting, wherein the grades of students on a class exam need to be studied through the proper distribution of numeric data.
Similar to a bar chart, this is a special type of chart used to demonstrate the distribution and relationships of a single item over a series of categories. This involves a breakdown of the sample distribution in a single dimension. As the name suggests, a histogram illustrates the distribution of data over a particular period of time, in which the data plotted on the chart follows a chronological scale. You may also check out color chart examples & samples.
Also referred to as a scattergram, scatter plots are a popular chart type utilized in the field of engineering and technology, mostly because it depicts how different items settle around a mean. This chart type is mainly used for correlation and distribution analysis, where researchers may easily pinpoint any anomalies or outliers present in the study. This is also perfect for exhibiting the relationship between two competing variables in which one may or may not correlate with the other. You might be interested in blood chart examples & samples.
Though the chart type above may be used to show trends, it’s important that we identify this function as a category of its own. Apart from a line chart, another popular charting technique used to describe price movements within a particular time frame is the candlestick chart.
Long before the bar and point-and-figure analysis systems came to be, the Japanese began using a technical charting method, the candlestick chart, for over a hundred years. This was discovered by a Japanese trader in the futures market named Homma, who noticed how the state of their market was greatly influenced by the emotion factor of its traders. These emotions made a vast difference between the proposed value and the actual price of rice, which is incredibly applicable to the stocks of present-day society. The principles formed by Homma then became the basis for the candlestick chart analysis. You may also see growth chart examples & samples.
Although this charting system was — and probably still is — very popular among traders, its complex nature is extremely difficult to understand by the average person.
From the term itself, this chart type gives viewers an idea of “what the data is composed of.” This is great for assessing a smaller amount of data in a survey. Despite the fact that charts that fall under this category are among the most frequently used types, they are also the most misused ones in the world of charting, which is why many experts suggest that researchers stay away from them. You may also like daily chart examples & samples.
A pie chart is known for depicting numbers in the form of percentages in order to visualize a part of a whole composition. But pie charts have often been criticized for its peculiar shape, where the pie’s divisions make it difficult for viewers to study the differences between each portion.
In spite of that, these are highly-used in the industry of business and marketing, as they can quickly and efficiently compare budget allocations, population divisions, as well as market-research question responses. But if you wish to compare individual categories to each other using their exact values, then pie charts may not communicate as effectively for this purpose.
A donut chart is basically a pie chart with the area in the middle of it being cut out. But compared to a pie chart, donut charts are a lot easier to read thanks to how the length of each arc serves as the point of reference in identifying the difference between each portion. They are also more space-efficient than pie charts, due to the blank space in the middle which can be used to display additional information. You may also check out temperature chart examples & samples.
Another thing to take note of when using composition charts is to be careful with the number of segments incorporated in the chart. A few slices are easier to read, but going beyond five portions can be quite crowded. To emphasize certain segments that are significant to your study, you can detach that bit from the main pie to make it stand out.
Showing the flow of a process through a flow chart is an effective way to demonstrate a step-by-step guide for easy troubleshooting. These are also used to improve the decision-making process, in which the probable cause and effect of a given action is presented.
Oftentimes in business and other related industries, indicating a process in the form of a diagram is highly encouraged. The way the chart is sequenced step-by-step makes it easier for viewers to analyze, design, and manage a particular task. This can either involve a process, system, or computer algorithm, depending on its intended purpose.
Flowcharts, often spelled as general flow charts, use various shapes (such as ovals, rectangles, diamonds, and triangles, among others) to define the type of step presented, along with connecting arrows to signify the flow and sequence of the given procedure. They are one of the most widely-used charts on the planet and are employed by both technical and non-technical fields to communicate a specific message.
Tailored from the concept of flow controls, here are four popular types of flowcharts:
According to their desired purpose, flow charts also go by their specialized names like the process flowchart, functional flowchart, process map, project flow chart, and the business process modelling and notation.
We all know that geographical maps have been used for navigation for many centuries, until such time that researchers have learned to utilized them as a tool for charting.
Map charts are perfect for entities that require a geographical representation of their acquired data. This is to give numbers a geographical context that will make it easier to locate areas that have been performing well and those that have been bringing in alarming rates. But if you do possess any sort of location-related data such as coordinates, state names or its abbreviations, country names, or general addresses, then you could use these to plot your map. These location charts are prominent in the field of business, especially when a company would want to monitor product sales in a given state, region, or city. You may also see exercise chart examples & samples.
However, keep in mind that a map isn’t a good medium to use for comparing exact values due to how map charts normally rely on color scales, in which humans aren’t the best at distinguishing. This is only ideal for displaying quantitative information (as well as standardized data) on a map, and presenting spatial relationships and patterns within an area. You may even track distribution across various geographical locations for better visualization and analysis. You may also like height and weight chart examples & samples.
A spider chart, or sometimes referred to as a radar or star chart, is a graphical method of showcasing multivariate data in the form of a 2D chart type, wherein three or more quantitative variables are represented on the axes starting from a center point. This usually consists of a series of categories, which are represented by a radii, that spread out to form a web-like appearance. Like a location chart, spider charts are perfect for identifying the general performance of the items displayed. This is also great for dealing with a large number of variables that may look cluttered in a bar chart or a line chart. You may also check out organizational chart examples & samples.
However, it’s important to remember that spider charts may come off pretty complex due to its structure. Some viewers may have difficulty reading and understanding the data displayed because of the number of variables present in the chart. With one too many variables forming polygons within the chart, some people might find it a bit too complicated to grasp.
If you’ve ever completed a thesis project or a research paper in the past, then this chart type may be familiar to you.
A gantt chart, which was named after the American mechanical engineer and management consultant, Henry Gantt, is a special type of bar graph that is used for planning and scheduling projects and activities in a systematized manner. These are basically project maps that illustrate tasks that need to be accomplished according to the order they are in, along with the proposed project deadline. The schedule given also indicates the start and end dates of each assignment.
But gantt charts are not limited to monitoring just specified time frames and project scheduling activities, as they may also be applied in rental businesses that need to record their list of rental offers, along with the approved rental periods.
If you’re searching for a tool to display key performance indicators (or KPI), then a gauge chart may be your best option. This makes it easier to display a single key value, and compare it to a color-coded performance level indicator, which indicates whether it good (green) or bad (red). In most instances, these charts are used to show one’s progress towards a set goal, display a percentile measure, and showcase an exact value and its meaning that can be quickly scanned and understood by a viewer. You might be interested in chore chart examples & samples.
A multi-axes chart is a bit more complicated than the rest of the chart types included in this list. A simple chart is good for relaying information, yet sometimes, this might not be enough to tell a whole story.
Multi-axes charts are utilized to show relationships and compare variables on immensely different scales that’s nearly impossible to do with a regular chart. While this may be good for broadcasting similar trends, possible correlations, and the relationship between various data sets, multi-axes charts aren’t ideal for drawing exact comparisons, nor will they function effectively in showing exact values. You may also see project flow chart examples & samples.
Instead, chart experts recommend using multi-axes charts for differentiating multiple measures with contrasting value ranges, illustrating the relationship and correlation (or lack of) between measures in one visualization, and for saving canvas space for your formal report.
Now that we’re aware of the various chart types and how they function, with the wide range of chart types available for you to choose from, how do you know which one suits your purpose best? You may also see business flow chart examples & samples.
If the facts given above aren’t enough for you to make the final decision, then try answering the following questions:
1. How many variables do you want to present in the chart? One, two, three, or more?
2. How many items (or data points) will be displayed for each variable? Do you plan on putting a few, or several more?
3. Do these values require an indicated time period from when they start and end? Or will these values be compared with other items or groups? You may also like weekly chart examples & samples.
Once you have gathered your thoughts, go back to the chart types above and see which chart type meets your requirements. For instance, bar charts would be perfect for drawing comparisons, while line charts work a lot better for monitoring trends. Scatter plots may be excellent for assessing relationships and distribution, but pie charts and donut charts are not recommendable for such purpose, as they must only be used for single compositions. You may also check out compatibility chart examples & samples.
Learning how to use these chart types effectively will help you create professional and detailed reports to obtain clear communication between you and your target audience. Though there are many types of charts to choose from, with some appearing more complex than others, it would be best to stick with the traditional, universally-known charts and graphs that you’re accustomed.
This will make it easier to deliver key information clearly and accurately for viewers to grasp. So instead of trying to impress viewers with complex chart types — which may be confusing for most people — focus on presenting information that is easy to read and make sense of. You might be interested in sales flow chart examples & samples.
So go ahead, experiment what you have learned about charting, and bring your reports to the next level with the help of a well-constructed chart!