Which Charts should you use for what kind of Data

Which Charts should you use for what kind of Data

Edward Tufte is by far one of the most revered guy when it comes to Corporate Presentations.  We all know he hates powerpoints.  But his way of presenting is amazing.  Here is very useful summary of the work by Tufte on what kind of Charts to use to show what kind of data.

Basically, the data representations are broken down in Four Categories:

Relationships between data points, Comparison between Data points, Composition of data and Distribution of Data.

  • A relationship tries to show a connection or correlation between two or more variables through the data presented, like the market cap of a given stock over time versus overall market trend.
  • A comparison tries to set one set of variables apart from another, and display how those two variables interact, like the number of visitors to five competing web sites in a single month.
  • A composition tries to collect different types of information that make up a whole and display them together, like the search terms that those visitors used to land on your site, or how many of them came from links, search engines, or direct traffic.
  • A distribution tries to lay out a collection of related or unrelated information simple to see how it correlates, if at all, and to understand if there’s any interaction between the variables, like the number of bugs reported during each month of a beta.

Lifechacker provides an interesting chart which gives a rather detailed way of making these kind of decisions.

Which Charts to Use?