Now, on to the fun stuff. This section will discuss the common graph types, reiterate what they’re best used for, and explain how to use them effectively. Based on your newfound knowledge of data, you should be able to figure out what type of graph is right for you. When it comes to infographic design, the goal of any designer, according to Nathan Yau, is to establish “clarity from complexity.” You can almost always determine the appropriate graph type based on the relationship type, but in most cases there are a number of acceptable options. Figuring out which graph makes the most sense to you is sometimes about what you think is the best (read: most effective) way to convey your message to your audience. And sometimes it’s only after graphing the data in several different ways does the best option become obvious.

In this section we will discuss the proper use and best practices for what we see as the most commonly used and misused graph types:

  • Dot plot
  • Line chart
  • Vertical bar graph
  • Horizontal bar graph
  • Stacked bar graph
  • Pie chart
  • Bubble chart

Dot Plot

As discussed, you can use dot plots to show nominal comparisons (Figure 9.1), time series (Figure 9.2), ranking (Figure 9.3), and part-to-whole relationships (Figure 9.4). Dot plots can be used with either discrete or continuous data. They essentially consist of a set of dots plotted along an x-axis according to qualitative values (e.g., subcategories), and vertically on the y-axis according to quantitative value. ...

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