Types of graphs

You can choose from several different kinds of graphs. Some graphs are better than others at presenting certain kinds of information. Each graph has display properties that you can adjust to suit your needs. You can experiment with the various graph types and display properties to see which will best depict the information you need to convey.

Graph types




Graph type: Vertical bar
Graph type: Horizontal bar

Bar graphs consist of two or more parallel rectangles, each representing a particular attribute value. These graphs are used to compare amounts or to show trends—for example, monthly rainfall amounts. The bars can be oriented vertically or horizontally.


Graph type: Histogram

A histogram graph is a subtype of the vertical bar graph that shows the frequency distribution of values.

Bar min and max

Graph type: Bar

A bar min and max graph highlights the minimum and maximum values of a series of data.


Graph type: Vertical line
Graph type: Horizontal line

A line graph consists of one or more lines connecting successive attribute values. Symbols can be plotted for the values along the line. Line graphs show trends in values along a continuous scale. The lines can be oriented horizontally or vertically.


Graph type: Vertical area
Graph type: Horizontal area

An area graph draws a straight line between successive attribute values and fills in the area between the line and the axis. Like line graphs, area graphs show trends in values, but the shading gives greater emphasis to differences in quantities. The areas can be oriented horizontally or vertically.


Graph type: Scatterplot

A scatterplot graph uses the attribute values as x,y coordinates to plot points. The pattern may reveal a relationship between the values plotted on the grid.

Box plot

Graph type: Box plot

A boxplot graph is an efficient way to display the statistical distribution of values. The box component indicates how spread out the middle 50 percent of the data is, the lines extending from the box are the range of values multiplied by a factor outside the spread, and any points are outliers. Box plots are also known as box whisker plots.


Graph type: Bubble

The bubble graph lets you chart three variables in two dimensions. It's a variation of the scatter graph, where the size of the bubble represents a particular data value. For example, the size of the bubble might represent total population; the position along the y-axis, birth rate; and the position along the x-axis, death rate.


Graph type: Polar

The polar graph lets you chart variables on a circular grid based on an angle or direction. Polar graphs are useful primarily in mathematical and statistical applications. For example, you can chart the wind direction for different x,y locations.


Graph type: Pie

The pie graph consists of a circle ("pie") divided into two or more sections (slices or wedges). Pie charts show relationships between parts and the whole and are particularly useful for showing proportions and ratios. You can highlight a pie slice by "exploding" it—moving it slightly away from the center.

Scatterplot matrix

Graph type: Scatterplot Matrix

A scatterplot matrix graph is a data exploration tool that plots several variables on the same graph. Scatterplot matrix graphs can be used to visualize and help identify patterns and relationships between the variables.

Types of graphs

Related Topics

Published 6/7/2010