Selecting the right chart for Data Visualization needs

Here’s something you’d find useful when you need to pick the right chart for different data visualization needs – Comparison, Distribution, Composition, and Relationship.

Chart Selection - Data Visualization Needs
Chart Selection – Data Visualization Needs (Courtesy: Qlik)


Comparison charts are used to compare the magnitude of values to each other and can be used to easily find the lowest and highest values in the data. It can also be used to compare current values versus old to see if the values are increasing or decreasing. Common questions are “what products sells best” and “how are our sales compared to last year”.


Distribution charts are used to see how quantitative values are distributed along an axis from lowest to highest. Looking at the shape of the data a user can identify characteristics such as the range of values, central tendency, shape and outliers. It can be used to answer questions such as “number of customers per age group” or “how many days late are our payments”.


Composition charts are used to see how a part compares to the whole and how a total value can be divided into shares. A composition charts shows the relative value, but some charts can also be used to show the absolute difference. The difference is between looking at percentage of total and value of total. Commons questions are “how big part of the market to we have in a region” or “what areas is our budget divided into”.


Relationship charts are used to see the relationship between the data and can be used to find correlations, outliers and clusters of data. Common questions are “is there a correlation between advertising spend and sales for our products” or “how does expenses and income vary per region and what’s the deviation”.

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