Area Chart

Area charts offer a visually striking way to showcase trends and patterns over time or across categories. They combine the strengths of line charts, highlighting changes in values, with the visual emphasis of bar charts, emphasizing the magnitude of those changes.

A stacked bar chart showing population forecast of Africa by region 1953-2098

When to use an Area Chart?

Visualize monthly, quarterly, or yearly sales figures using an area chart. The shaded area effectively highlights sales growth or decline over time, making it easy to identify seasonal trends or the impact of marketing campaigns.

Chart customer acquisition and churn rates over time with an area plot. This allows you to see how your customer base is growing (area rising) or shrinking (area falling), providing insights into the effectiveness of your customer acquisition strategies.

Use area charts to visualize website traffic patterns across different timeframes. This can reveal peak traffic hours, weekdays with higher visits, or the impact of new content launches on user engagement.

Track the price fluctuations of multiple stocks over time using a stacked area graph. This allows for easy comparison of individual stock trends while revealing the overall market movement represented by the total stacked area.

Show changes in student test scores or grades over time with an area chart example. This can be particularly useful for tracking individual student progress or identifying trends across a class or entire school.

Tips & Tricks

While powerful for showcasing trends and accumulation, area charts require careful consideration to ensure clarity and avoid misinterpretation. Here’s a guide to area charts to elevate your chart creations with

Choose the Right Data: Don't force data that doesn't exhibit these characteristics into plot area of a chart. Consider alternatives like bar charts for comparing discrete values or scatter plots for exploring relationships between two variables.

Embrace Color Theory: Use a visually appealing color palette, differentiate data series effectively, and align with accessibility standards. Consider color-coding for related data or using color intensity to represent magnitude. Tools like's color palettes offer a range of options that adhere to best practices.

Label Axes and Data Points: Provide clear and concise labels for your area chart's axes and data points. This helps viewers understand the context of the data and interpret the trends accurately. Use descriptive titles and axis labels to communicate the chart's purpose effectively.

Stacked Area Charts: Consider using stacked area charts to show the cumulative total of multiple data series. Use different stacking options, such as cumulative, normalized, or percentage stacking, to visualize data relationships. Stacked area charts can effectively illustrate the composition of data sets and how they contribute to the overall trend.

Data Overload: Avoid cluttering your chart with too many data series. This can overwhelm viewers and make it challenging to decipher trends. If you have a multitude of data series, consider a stacked area chart or explore alternative visualizations.

Animations & Interactions: Vizzu allows you to add a touch of animation to your area charts, making them even more engaging. Animate the lines or gradually reveal the area fill to showcase trends dynamically. Interactive elements like tooltips displaying hover data points can further enhance user experience.

Customize for Clarity: Tailor the appearance of your area chart to optimize clarity and readability. Adjust line thickness, marker size, and font style to ensure key elements stand out without overwhelming the viewer. Experiment with transparency and shading to create depth and visual interest.

Trendlines: Add trendlines to your area chart to highlight patterns and trends in the data. Trendlines can help viewers identify the direction of the data series and make predictions based on historical data.

Validate and Iterate: Before finalizing your area chart, validate its accuracy and effectiveness through thorough testing and feedback. Get input from colleagues or stakeholders to identify potential issues or areas for improvement. Tweak your design based on feedback to refine and enhance the clarity and impact of your visualization.

Use Annotations: Annotations are a powerful tool for adding context and insights to your area chart. Highlight significant events, trends, or anomalies by annotating specific data points or regions. Annotations can include text labels, arrows, or shapes, guiding the viewer's attention and enhancing understanding.

Area Chart FAQ

How to read an area chart?

Reading an area chart is relatively straightforward once you understand its components. The horizontal axis typically represents time or categories, while the vertical axis represents the numerical values being measured. Each area in the chart represents a different data series, with the shaded area below the line filled with color to emphasize the data's magnitude. Examining the intersection points between the data series and the horizontal axis allows you to identify trends, patterns, and fluctuations over time or across categories.

What is a stacked area chart?

A stacked area chart is a variation of the area chart that shows the cumulative total of multiple data series. In a stacked area chart, the areas for each data series are stacked on top of each other, allowing you to see the contribution of each series to the overall total. This chart type is useful for comparing the relative size and composition of different data series over time.

What are area charts used for?

Area charts visualize trends and patterns in data over time. As area chart definition tells, they are best for showing how a variable changes relative to another variable, such as sales revenue compared to marketing spend. An area plot can help identify trends and peaks in data, making it a valuable tool for data analysis and communication.

How to make an area chart in Excel?

While Excel allows you to create area charts, the process can be cumbersome and time-consuming. You'll need to navigate menus, format data points, and customize the visual elements. Vizzu offers a simpler and more efficient solution to create an area chart. Our intuitive interface allows you to create stunning area charts in minutes. Simply upload your data, choose your desired visual style, and customize with a few clicks. With Vizzu, you can focus on the story your data tells instead of the technicalities of chart creation.

How to make an area chart in Google Sheets?

Making an area chart in Google Sheets follows a process similar to that of Excel. Select your data range, navigate to the Insert menu, and choose Chart. Select the Area Chart option from the Chart Editor and customize the chart's settings as needed. Google Sheets offers basic charting capabilities, but for more advanced features and customization options, consider using Vizzu as an alternative. Vizzu's intuitive interface and interactive tools enable you to create engaging area charts that effectively communicate your data insights.

How to create a stacked area chart in Excel?

To create a stacked area chart in Excel, you first need to organize your data into multiple series. Then, select the data range and choose the stacked area chart type from the chart options. Excel will automatically stack the data series on top of each other, displaying the cumulative total for each category over time. You can further customize the chart's appearance and layout to enhance clarity and readability.

Is it possible to add a trendline to an area chart?

Yes, it is possible to add a trendline to an area chart in certain charting software. In Excel, you can add a trendline by selecting the chart, clicking on the "Chart Tools" tab in the ribbon, choosing the "Add Chart Element" button, and selecting "Trendline." In Google Sheets, you can add a trendline by clicking on the chart, selecting the "Add trendline" option from the chart editor, and choosing the type of trendline you want to add.