Get to know the types of data visualization charts and graphs

Uncover the diverse world of data visualization types, from basics like columns to advanced models. Elevate your data storytelling!

Get to know the types of data visualization charts and graphs

Data visualization is a powerful tool that transforms complex information into easily understandable visuals, helping in insightful decision-making or effective storytelling.

Among the many data visualization options available, understanding the basics is crucial for choosing the right representation for your data. In this exploration of data visualization models, we delve into fundamental types, such as column charts or bar charts, and move to specialized charts like Histogram, Waterfall or Marimekko. 

Whether you are comparing quantities, tracking trends over time, or revealing relationships between variables, this guide provides insights into which data visualization to use for your needs.

Basic types of data visualization charts and graphs

In this section, we'll delve into the basic charts and graphs that are the most commonly used ones. If you are hungry for more advanced and specialized visualization types, jump straight to the next section.

Column Chart

visual representation of a column chart

A column chart visually represents numerical values using vertical columns. Each column's height corresponds to the value it represents, making it an effective tool for comparing quantities across different categories or tracking changes over time. The key distinction from a bar chart is the orientation of the columns—vertical instead of horizontal.

Column charts are best utilized when showcasing comparisons between individual items, tracking changes over distinct categories, or emphasizing the magnitude of values. They offer a clear and straightforward way to illustrate data, making them widely applicable in various scenarios.

Bar Chart

visual representation of a bar chart

Similar to a column chart, a bar chart visually represents numerical values using rectangular bars. Each bar's length corresponds to the value it represents, making it effective for comparing quantities across different categories or tracking changes over time. Bar charts are particularly useful when dealing with discrete categories, and they offer a clear and straightforward way to illustrate comparisons.

This type of chart is best employed when showcasing comparisons between individual items, tracking changes over distinct categories, or emphasizing the magnitude of values. It is widely used in various scenarios, such as comparing sales figures for different products, displaying the performance of teams or departments, or visualizing survey results with distinct options.

Stacked Bar Chart

a visual representation of stacked bar chart

Derivative of a bar chart, a stacked bar chart is a type of data visualization that displays multiple datasets as bars, where each bar is divided into segments representing different subcategories or components. The total height of the bar represents the combined value of all segments, and each segment's length corresponds to its specific value within the category.

This type of chart is best used when you want to illustrate the total magnitude of a category while showing the composition of subcategories. Stacked bar charts are effective for comparing the contribution of each subcategory to the overall total. They are suitable for situations where you want to emphasize both the individual components and the overall pattern or trend.

Line Chart

a visual representation of line chart

A line chart, also known as a line graph, is a visual representation of data points connected by straight lines. One of the most popular data visualization graph types. This chart type is particularly useful for displaying trends and patterns over time, making it an effective choice for time-series data analysis. The x-axis typically represents time or another continuous variable, while the y-axis represents the values being measured.

Line charts excel in illustrating the overall direction and trajectory of data, emphasizing changes, fluctuations, or trends. They are ideal for showcasing continuous data sets and revealing relationships between variables.

Scatter Plot

a visual representation of scatter plot

A scatter plot is a data visualization technique that represents individual data points on a two-dimensional graph. Each point on the graph corresponds to a pair of values, with one value plotted on the x-axis and the other on the y-axis. Scatter plots are particularly useful for identifying relationships, correlations, or patterns between two variables.

This type of chart is best used when analyzing the correlation between two quantitative variables, allowing for the observation of trends and the identification of outliers. Scatter plots are beneficial for visualizing the distribution and clustering of data points, providing insights into the nature of the relationship between the variables.

Area Chart/Map

a visual representation of area chart

An area chart represents data points connected with lines, and an area map is a geospatial visualization displaying values over a map. The space between the line and the x-axis is filled, creating a shaded area that represents the quantity being measured.

This type of chart is best used for showing trends over time or comparing quantities in different categories, particularly suitable for time-series data, geographical data, and data with clear patterns over a continuous range.

Specialized types of data visualization charts and graphs

Moving beyond the foundational charts, we now delve into specialized types of data visualization that can serve distinct analytical needs. These visualizations offer nuanced insights and are tailored for specific scenarios, from illustrating hierarchical structures with Marimekko charts to showcasing relationships in a radial manner with radar charts.

Pie Chart

a visual representation of pie chart

A pie chart is a circular statistical graphic that is divided into slices to illustrate numerical proportions. Each slice represents a proportionate part of the whole, and the size of each slice corresponds to the quantity it represents relative to the total.

This type of chart is best used when you want to show the distribution of parts within a whole and emphasize the percentage contribution of each part. Pie charts are effective for illustrating simple relationships and conveying the share of each category in relation to the entire dataset.


Histograms are data visualization graphs representing the distribution of a dataset. It consists of a series of contiguous bars, where each bar represents the frequency (or count) of data falling within a specific range or "bin." The bars are usually adjacent and have no gaps between them, emphasizing the continuity of the data.

This type of chart is best used when you want to visualize the underlying frequency distribution of a continuous dataset and understand the pattern or shape of the data. Histograms are particularly useful for identifying central tendency, spread, and skewness in the distribution.

Box-and-whisker Plot

A box-and-whisker plot, also known as a boxplot, is a graphical representation of the distribution of a dataset, providing a summary of its central tendency, spread, and identification of outliers. The plot consists of a rectangular "box" and two "whiskers" extending from the box.

The box represents the interquartile range (IQR), with the central line inside indicating the median. The whiskers extend to the minimum and maximum values within a defined range or as determined by a statistical criterion. Any data points beyond the whiskers are considered outliers.


a visual representation of treemap

A treemap is a hierarchical data visualization that uses nested rectangles to represent the hierarchical structure of the data. The size and color of each rectangle convey information about the quantity or value of the data it represents. Treemaps are often used to visualize hierarchical data structures, where each branch of the hierarchy is represented by a nested rectangle.

This type of chart is best used when you want to display the hierarchical structure of a dataset and emphasize the relative proportions of each branch within the hierarchy. Treemaps are effective for visualizing large and complex datasets with multiple levels of categorization.

Bubble Chart

a visual representation of bubble chart

A bubble chart is a data visualization that displays three-dimensional data points using circles or bubbles. Each bubble represents a data point, and its position on the chart is determined by its x and y coordinates. Additionally, the size of the bubble represents a third numerical dimension, usually indicating the magnitude or value associated with the data point.

This type of chart is best used when you want to visualize relationships between three variables and emphasize the magnitude of each data point. Bubble charts are effective for showing patterns, trends, and correlations within datasets with multiple dimensions.

Radar Chart

a visual representation of radar chart

A radar chart, also known as a radar polygon or radar triangle, is a data visualization that displays multivariate data in a radial manner. The chart consists of a series of spokes, each representing a different variable or category, and data points are plotted along these spokes to create a polygon or triangle shape. The area enclosed by the shape reflects the overall pattern or performance across the variables.

This type of chart is best used when you want to compare the values of multiple variables for a single data point. Radar charts are effective for highlighting patterns, strengths, and weaknesses across different categories, making them suitable for performance analysis, feature comparison, and showcasing profiles with multiple dimensions.

Heat Map

a visual representation of heat map

A heat map is a data visualization technique that uses color gradients to represent the values of a matrix or a two-dimensional dataset. In a heat map, each cell's color is determined by the data it represents, with variations in color intensity indicating different levels of values. Heat maps are often used to reveal patterns, trends, and variations in large datasets, making complex information more accessible.

This type of chart is best used when you want to visualize the distribution and relationships between two categorical variables or the intensity of a numerical variable across two dimensions. Heat maps are particularly effective for identifying concentrations, clusters, or trends within data and are widely utilized in various fields, including finance, biology, and user experience analysis.

Dual-Axis Chart

A dual-axis chart is a technique that combines two different types of data visualization graphs or charts within the same plot area, utilizing two separate y-axes that share a common x-axis. This approach enables the simultaneous representation of two distinct datasets with different units or scales, providing a comprehensive view of their relationships and trends.

This type of chart is best used when you want to compare two sets of data that have different units of measurement but share a common independent variable. The dual-axis chart allows for the visual exploration of correlations, patterns, or divergences between the two datasets. It is particularly effective when there is a potential cause-and-effect relationship or when changes in one variable may influence the other.

Network Graphs

Network graphs, also known as network diagrams, are a type of data visualization that represents relationships and connections between entities. In a network graph, nodes (representing entities) are connected by edges (representing relationships or interactions). This visualization method is particularly useful for illustrating complex relationships, dependencies, and interactions within a system or dataset.

This type of chart is best used when you want to explore and communicate relationships between various elements in a network. Network graphs are commonly employed in diverse fields such as social network analysis, biology (e.g., depicting protein-protein interactions), transportation systems, and organizational structures.


A Choropleth is a type of data visualization map that represents statistical data through various shading patterns or colors on predefined geographic areas such as countries, states, or regions. The intensity of the color or shading in each area corresponds to the value of the data being represented. 

Choropleth maps are particularly useful for visualizing spatial patterns, distributions, or variations of a specific variable across different geographical regions. They are commonly employed in fields like demographics, economics, and epidemiology to illustrate regional disparities, concentrations, or trends within a dataset. 

Waterfall Chart

a visual representation of waterfall chart

A waterfall chart is a data visualization tool used to illustrate the cumulative effect of sequentially introduced positive or negative values. It displays how an initial value changes over a series of intermediate values, leading to a final cumulative total. The chart visually resembles cascading waterfalls, with each step representing a different part of the overall change.

This type of chart is best used when you want to depict the contributions of individual components to a total value, especially in financial or project management contexts. Waterfall charts are valuable for showcasing the incremental impact of various factors on the overall outcome.

Funnel Chart

A funnel chart is a visual representation of a process that narrows down progressively, highlighting the reduction in the number of elements at each stage. It resembles an inverted pyramid, where the top represents the initial stage, and subsequent sections illustrate the decreasing quantities as the process unfolds.

This type of chart is best used to depict the stages of a sequential process, emphasizing the diminishing volume or value at each step. Funnel charts are particularly popular in marketing and sales analytics to illustrate the conversion rates at different stages of a sales or marketing funnel.

Gantt Chart

A Gantt chart is a horizontal bar chart that visually represents the schedule and progress of tasks or activities over time. It provides a timeline view of project activities, allowing project managers and teams to plan, coordinate, and track the execution of tasks throughout the project lifecycle.

This type of chart is best used for project management to illustrate the start and end dates of individual tasks, as well as their dependencies and overall project timeline. Gantt charts are particularly effective in displaying the sequential order of tasks and the duration each task is expected to take.

Bullet Graph

A bullet graph is a specialized type of bar chart designed to display the progress or performance of a metric against pre-defined benchmarks or goals. It provides a concise and clear representation of how well a particular metric is performing in relation to the expected target or range.

This type of data visualization graphs are best used when there is a need to communicate performance metrics effectively, such as key performance indicators (KPIs) or sales targets. Bullet graphs are particularly suitable for scenarios where a single metric needs to be assessed against various benchmarks or comparative measures.

Polar Graph

a visual representation of polar graph

A polar graph, also known as a radial chart, is a two-dimensional graph in which data points are plotted using polar coordinates. Unlike Cartesian coordinates, where points are defined by x and y values, polar coordinates use a radial distance and an angular direction to represent data. The graph is centered around a point, and data is plotted based on angles and distances from that center.

Polar graphs are particularly suitable for visualizing data that has a circular or cyclical nature, making them effective for displaying periodic patterns, trends, or relationships. The circular arrangement of data points is ideal for representing information that is distributed around a central point in a way that emphasizes the angular aspect of the data.

Marimekko Chart

a visual representation of marimekko chart

A Marimekko chart, also referred to as a mosaic plot or matrix chart, is a two-dimensional stacked chart used to visualize categorical data. In this chart, rectangles represent the proportion of each category within different segments. The width of each rectangle signifies the proportion of a specific category, while the height represents the proportion of that category within a segment. Segments are usually organized along one axis, and rectangles within each segment are stacked to illustrate cumulative contributions.

Effective Marimekko chart design involves careful labeling, color differentiation for clarity, and organizing segments in a meaningful order. The visual representation provided by Marimekko charts aids in quickly identifying patterns, trends, and relative proportions within complex datasets, making it a valuable tool for decision-makers and analysts.

Radial Wheel

a visual representation of radial wheel

Radial wheel charts, also known as radial bar charts or radial graphs, are circular data visualization graphs that display data using spokes or bars extending from the center outward. Each spoke or bar represents a category, and the length or position of the spoke indicates the magnitude or value of the corresponding data.

This type of chart is best used for presenting data with distinct categories that radiate from a central point. It is effective for displaying proportions, comparisons, or distributions within a circular context. Radial wheel charts are commonly employed in scenarios where a clear visual representation of relative values around a central theme is beneficial.

Pyramid Chart

A pyramid chart is a graphical representation that resembles a pyramid, with layers of varying widths, representing different hierarchical levels or data categories. The width of each layer corresponds to the quantity or proportion it represents within the overall structure.

This type of chart is best used to illustrate hierarchical relationships, distribution of values, or the progression of data from a broad base to a narrower top. Pyramid charts are commonly employed in business scenarios to depict organizational structures, population distributions, or any hierarchical data with diminishing proportions. They provide a visually engaging way to showcase the diminishing significance of each layer as it ascends toward the pinnacle of the pyramid.

Multi-Layer Pie Chart

A multi-layer pie chart is a variant of the traditional pie chart that consists of multiple rings or layers, each representing a different set of data. Each layer is divided into segments, and the size of each segment corresponds to the proportion of the total within that layer.

This type of chart is best used when there is a need to display hierarchical or nested data with multiple levels of categorization. It is effective in illustrating the composition of each category within a broader context. Multi-layer pie charts provide a visually appealing way to convey complex relationships or the distribution of data across multiple dimensions, making them suitable for presenting categorical data with varying levels of granularity.

PERT Chart

A PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique) chart is a project management tool that visualizes the tasks involved in completing a project and the dependencies between them. It uses a network diagram to represent the sequence and relationships among different project activities.

This type of chart is best used in project planning and scheduling to identify the critical path, understand task dependencies, and estimate the time required for project completion. PERT charts are particularly useful for complex projects with interdependent activities, as they help project managers allocate resources efficiently and manage the workflow effectively.

If you found the advanced types of visualization interesting why not check out our Data Visualization Tips?

Miscellaneous types of data visualization charts and graphs


A table is a structured arrangement of data in rows and columns, providing a clear and organized way to present information. Tables are commonly used in various contexts, including data analysis, statistics, and database management. Each row in a table typically represents a record or observation, while each column represents a specific attribute or variable.

Tables are highly versatile and applicable across different domains. They are particularly useful for displaying numerical data, making comparisons, and organizing information systematically. In business reports, academic research, and scientific presentations, tables are often employed to present data in a tabular format, making it easier for readers to interpret and analyze. The simplicity and clarity of tables make them effective tools for conveying structured information, and their use extends to areas such as spreadsheets, databases, and document preparation.

Pivot Tables

A bit more advanced type of a table,  pivot table is a data processing tool used in spreadsheet programs like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. It allows users to summarize, analyze, and interpret large datasets by transforming and reorganizing the information. Pivot tables are particularly effective for creating insightful reports and gaining valuable insights from complex data.

The primary function of a pivot table is to enable users to rearrange and analyze data dynamically. Users can drag and drop fields within the table to organize information based on different criteria, such as categories, time periods, or numerical values. The table then automatically performs calculations, such as sums, averages, counts, or percentages, depending on the user's preferences.

Highlight Table

Another specific type of a table, highlight table is a type of data visualization that uses color to emphasize and categorize values within a table. Each cell in the table is colored based on its data, providing a quick visual summary of the information. The color variations help highlight patterns, trends, or specific data points, making it easier for the audience to interpret the data.

This type of visualization is best used when there is a need to quickly identify and compare values within a large dataset. It is particularly effective for presenting data with clear patterns or significant variances, allowing stakeholders to focus on key insights. Highlight tables are commonly employed in data analysis, business intelligence, and reporting to enhance the visibility of important information.


A flowchart is a graphical representation of a process, displaying the steps and decisions involved in a system or workflow. It uses various shapes, symbols, and arrows to illustrate the sequence of actions and the flow of information within a process.

Flowcharts are versatile tools that can be applied in various fields, such as software development, business processes, project management, and decision-making. They are especially useful for visualizing complex procedures, identifying bottlenecks, and improving the efficiency of a process. Flowcharts facilitate communication and understanding among team members, stakeholders, and decision-makers by providing a clear and structured overview of how a process unfolds. Whether used to design new processes or analyze existing ones, flowcharts are instrumental in streamlining workflows and fostering better organizational comprehension.


A timeline is a graphical representation that displays a chronological sequence of events over a specific period. It presents a visual overview of historical, project-related, or sequential data, allowing viewers to understand the temporal progression of activities. Timelines typically use a horizontal axis to represent time, and events or milestones are marked along this axis.

Timelines are versatile tools used in various contexts, such as history, project management, and personal planning. In historical contexts, timelines illustrate the order of significant events, helping individuals comprehend historical narratives. In project management, timelines map out tasks, deadlines, and dependencies, aiding in project planning and tracking. Personal timelines can be used for planning life events, educational milestones, or career progressions.

Venn Diagram

A Venn diagram is a visual representation that illustrates the relationships between different sets or groups. It consists of overlapping circles, each representing a set, with the overlapping areas indicating common elements shared between the sets. Venn diagrams are valuable for displaying the intersections and differences among various data categories or concepts.

These diagrams are commonly used to depict logical relationships, highlighting the similarities and distinctions between different entities. Venn diagrams are particularly useful when showcasing the correlation between groups or when analyzing data with multiple attributes. They provide a clear visual structure that helps viewers comprehend the shared and exclusive characteristics of each set.

In various fields such as mathematics, statistics, and problem-solving, Venn diagrams are employed to simplify complex relationships and aid in logical reasoning. They are also prevalent in business presentations, educational materials, and scientific research to convey overlapping concepts or categories effectively.

Tree Chart

A tree chart, also known as a hierarchical chart or tree diagram, is a visual representation of hierarchical structures or relationships among various entities. It resembles an inverted tree with branches and nodes, where each level represents a different set of categories or classifications. Tree charts are widely used to illustrate parent-child relationships, organizational structures, or any hierarchical information.

These charts are best utilized when showcasing the hierarchical relationships within a system, organization, or classification. They are often employed in organizational charts, family trees, project hierarchies, and classification systems.

For example, in project management, a tree chart can represent the breakdown of tasks and subtasks, showing the hierarchy of project components. In genealogy, a family tree chart displays the relationships between generations. 

Mind Map

A mind map is a visual representation of ideas, concepts, or information arranged around a central theme or topic. It is a graphical tool that uses branching and connections to illustrate relationships between different elements. Typically, the central idea is placed in the center, and related concepts radiate outward in a non-linear, organic structure.

Mind maps are effective for brainstorming, organizing thoughts, and representing the interconnectedness of various concepts. They provide a holistic view of a subject, allowing for creative exploration and capturing associations between different ideas.

Concentric Circles

Concentric circles are a visual representation where multiple circles share the same center but have different radii. This type of chart is characterized by the arrangement of circles within one another, creating a series of nested rings. The size of each circle and its position relative to others can convey different dimensions of information.

Concentric circles are often used for data visualization where the magnitude or proportion of values is represented by the size or area of the circles. Each ring can symbolize a distinct category, and the size differences between circles help illustrate variations in the data.


A gauge chart, also known as a dial chart or speedometer chart, is a visual representation designed to display a single metric or value within a specific range. It resembles a speedometer with a needle pointing to a value on a circular scale. The needle position indicates where the current value falls within the defined range.

Gauge charts are effective for presenting a single data point in comparison to a predetermined set of benchmarks, thresholds, or goals. The visual appeal of a gauge chart lies in its simplicity and ease of interpretation. Users can quickly assess whether the metric is within an acceptable range, below, or above expectations.

Half Donut Chart

A half donut chart is a variation of a traditional donut chart, displaying data in a half-circle or semicircle instead of a full circle. Like a standard donut chart, it conveys information using sectors and is useful for representing parts of a whole. The circular nature allows for easy visualization of proportions and comparisons.

This type of chart is best used for showing the percentage distribution of different categories within a total, making it effective for scenarios where you want to emphasize proportions or parts of a whole. It is particularly suitable for situations where you want to highlight specific data points or segments in a visually appealing and concise manner.

Icon Array

An icon array is a data visualization technique that represents numerical information using a grid of icons or symbols. Each icon in the array typically corresponds to a specific quantity or data point. The size, shape, or color of the icons may be used to convey additional information, such as the magnitude or category of the data.

Icon arrays are best used when visualizing categorical or discrete data where individual items or counts are significant. They provide a straightforward and intuitive way to communicate quantities, making them suitable for presentations, infographics, or reports where a visual representation can enhance understanding. Icon arrays are particularly effective in conveying proportions, percentages, or relative frequencies across different categories or groups.

Cone Chart

A cone chart is a three-dimensional data visualization that uses cone-shaped elements to represent numerical values. Each cone in the chart typically has a base size or height proportional to a specific data point. These charts are often used to illustrate hierarchical structures, relationships, or distributions within the data.

Cone charts are best employed when you need to display hierarchical relationships or when comparing the magnitude of values across different categories. They can be effective in scenarios where the data has a natural hierarchical structure, and you want to emphasize the proportions or levels within that hierarchy. Cone charts add a visual dimension to the data, making them suitable for presentations, reports, or dashboards where a more engaging representation is desired.

Ready to rock the data visualization types you have just learned?

Congratulations! You've now gained a comprehensive understanding of various data visualization types and their applications. Armed with this knowledge, you're well-equipped to choose the right charts and graphs for your data, depending on your specific needs and the story you want to tell.

Remember, effective data visualization is not just about creating aesthetically pleasing charts; it's about conveying information in a way that is clear, insightful, and impactful. As you embark on your data visualization journey, keep these key takeaways in mind:

Know Your Data - Understand the nature of your data, whether it's categorical, numerical, or temporal. Different types of data call for different visualization techniques.

Choose the Right Chart - Select the visualization type that best suits your data and your communication goals. Whether it's a bar chart for comparisons, a line chart for trends, or a pie chart for proportions, each type serves a specific purpose.

Tell a Story - Whether you're presenting business metrics, analyzing trends, or conveying research findings, the ability to create meaningful and engaging visualizations is a powerful skill. As you integrate these diverse visualization types into your reports, you'll not only enhance your data storytelling but also empower others to gain valuable insights from the information you present.

So go ahead, rock those charts, and make your data shine with Vizzu!