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Choosing a suitable chart for your data

March 19, 2015
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Numbers can give nightmares unless they indicate an increase in salary and therefore it is always advisable to present your numerical data with the help of a graph or chart.

Should I use a pie diagram or a line chart??? No no bar chart will look the best. No I should try something else.

Do you sound the same while selecting a suitable chart to present your data. Well then we assure you that this article will help you a lot.

Which charts are appropriate in the following situations?

1. Comparing two or more things

When you want to compare two or more things, then the best chart that you can use is a bar chart. In the image below, we use a bar chart to compare the sales of 5 months. Each month has its own bar on the Y axis, values for which run along on the X axis.

Bar charts in Excel

Other charts that can be used

• Column charts

• Line charts

2. Comparing the components of a whole

You can always use a pie chart, when you want to show the values of individual components proportional to a whole. Each component becomes the slice of the pie and you can easily know relative size of a component through the size of the slice. In the image below, we compare our operating expenses using a pie chart.

Pie Diagram in Excel

Other charts that can be used

• Column Chart

• Bar Chart

3. To show the trend overtime

When you want show the trend of particular data overtime then the best way to show it is through line charts. Whether it is population of a country in last 10 years or company turnover, line charts are suitable to show it. In the example below, we use a line chart to know the trend of the admissions taken month wise.

Other charts that can be used

• Column charts

• Area Charts

Line charts in Excel

4. Relationship between two or more variables

When you want to show a connection or correlation between two or more variables then use the scatter charts. A Scatter chart uses numeric values along both axes instead of values along the vertical axis and categories along the horizontal axis. The image below is an example of scatter chart showing the dispensable income of men and women.

Scatter chart in excel

Other charts that can be used

• Bubble chart

• Line Chart

We hope that we were able to solve your confusion a little. You can also learn about some vital charting facts over here. Do let us know which is your favorite chart and why in the comments box below.


About the Author

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