Types of Graphs and Charts Graphs

Types of Graphs and Charts

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Definitions: Graphs and Charts

  • Graphs: A graph can be defined as a pictorial representation of the relationship between two or more variables that hold quantitative values. 
  • Chart: A chart can be defined as a visual representation of any type of data in the form of a diagram, picture, or graph, and is intended to make information easier to understand. 

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The Difference Between Graphs and Charts

The terms ‘graphs’ and ‘charts’ can often be used interchangeably, but it is important to note the key distinction between the two; a graph is a mathematical diagram that is used to represent the relationship between two or more numerical data sets over a period of time and a chart, on the other hand, is any kind of pictorial representation of data sets in a way that allows users to comprehend the information in a better or easier way. All graphs are charts as they help users comprehend data in a better way, however, all charts are not graphs as some charts may simply be used for data visualization and may not depict the relationship between multiple variables that hold quantitative values. 

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Types of Graphs and Charts

Within this article, we will explore some commonly used graphs and charts to understand how and when they are used.

Line Graph

Types of Graphs and Charts Graphs

A line graph is a type of chart that displays data points that change over time. The different data points are connected using straight lines to depict the rise and fall in the values of a variable when there is a change in the other variable, such as time. There are two axes on the line graph; the horizontal axis known as the x-axis and the vertical axis known as the y-axis. 

These are a few different types of line graphs: 

  • Simple Line Graph: In this type of line graph, there is only one line plotted. One of the axes will define the dependent variable while the other defines the independent variable. 
  • Multiple Line Graph: This type of line graph comprises two or more lines within a data set and can be used to study two or more variables over a specific period of time. 
  • Compound Line Graph: The compound line graph is used when dealing with different groups of data from a large data set. Every line is shaded downward to the x-axis. 

Pie Chart

Types of Graphs and Charts Graphs

A pie chart is a kind of graph that presents data in a circular graph. To create a pie chart, you require a list of categorical variables with numerical values attached to them so that the different numerical proportions within a data set can be illustrated on the chart. These proportions are depicted by dividing the circle into sectors, with each sector representing a specific proportion of a numerical element within the set.

These are a few different types of pie charts:

  • Simple Pie Chart: A regular pie chart.
  • Exploded Pie Chart: A pie chart where a certain sector of the circle is separated, or exploded, to emphasise a certain element of the data set. 
  • Pie of Pie: A pie chart that generates another pie chart from an existing one to emphasise a certain set of elements or reduce the clutteredness of the chart. 
  • Bar of Pie: A pie chart that generates a bar chart from an existing one to emphasise a certain set of elements or reduce the clutteredness of the chart. 

Scatter Plot

Types of Graphs and Charts Graphs

A scatter plot, or a scatter graph, is a chart that uses dots to represent the different data points of two different variables. The position of each dot represents the values of both, the variable on the x-axis and the variable on the y-axis. Scatter plots are used to observe the relationships between variables and can indicate whether the relationship is linear or nonlinear, positive or negative, strong or weak. 

There are three key types of correlations that are observed within scatter plots:

  • Positive Correlation: When an increase in the value of one variable also implies an increase in the value of the other, the two groups of data are said to have a positive correlation. 
  • Negative Correlation: When an increase in the value of one variable implies a decrease in the value of the other, the two groups of data are said to have a negative correlation. 
  • No Correlation: This occurs when the scatter plot depicts that the two data sets are not correlated.

Area Chart

Types of Graphs and Charts Graphs

Area charts are similar to line graphs as they depict similar patterns. However, a key difference between line graphs and area charts is that in area charts, the space between the line and the x-axis is filled with colour to depict the difference between different data sets on the chart. An area chart is generally used with multiple lines to depict the way a data set is broken down into different component parts. 

These are a few different types of line graphs: 

  • Overlapping Area Chart: The overlapping area chart is useful when trying to compare the values between groups. It starts off as a line chart and then involves shading between the lines on the chart and the x-axis. The shadings are translucent so that the overlap between the groups can be easily discerned. 
  • Stacked Area Chart: In this type of area chart, lines are plotted one at a time, considering the height of the most recently-plotted group as a moving baseline. Most area charts generally take the form of a stacked area chart. 

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FAQs on Graphs and Charts

All graphs are charts but all charts are not graphs. This is because the term ‘charts’ refers to any pictorial representation of data in a way that makes the data easier to comprehend, while the term ‘graph’ is more specific and refers to the pictorial representation of two or more variables that hold numerical values.

A few strengths of a scatter plot is that it can indicate the type and strength of correlation between two variables and is also generally colourful and visually appealing to readers. A few limitations of a scatter plot is that it can only be used for two variables and that it can’t depict the exact extent of correlation between the two. 

Some commonly used charts are line graphs, bar graphs, area charts, pie charts, and scatter plots.

There are three distinct types of line graphs and they are single line graphs, multiple line graphs, and compound line graphs. 

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