September 6, 2006

Choosing a good chart

Here's something we came up with to help you consider which chart to use. It was inspired by the table in Gene Zelazny's classic work Saying It With Charts (p. 27 in the 4th. ed)

[Check out the new Slide Chooser, featured in our just-being-released new book, Encyclopedia of Slide Layouts]

[The chart chooser is step 7 in the 10-step Extreme Presentation method for designing presentations that drive action. More details on the chart chooser in my blog, on the Extreme Presentation site, and in Advanced Presentations by Design — 1/20/09]  




38 Responses to Choosing a good chart

  1. Zach says:

    Bless you for putting this together. This is a popular request and now I have a place to point people. What would be great is if you opened up this framework so that other chart aficionados (I’m thinking of Kelly O’Day at would have a chance to add new chart types.

  2. Andrew Abela says:

    Thank you Zach for the suggestion. I like your idea; let me think about how we could implement this. Thanks also for drawing my attention to the work of Kelly O’Day; I am posting on this today.

  3. Peter says:

    There is another very interesting way of helping to find the right chart.
    “A Periodic Table of Visualization Method”
    You can find more information about it at

  4. Great article, i have linked you on my blog. Bless you.

  5. Alex says:

    Deciding on which chart type to use in our reports has always been a bit of pain … no more … you saved the day. Thanks to you we’re already using the pdf as a reference when choosing an appropriate chart for each specific report. Great job! Thanks!

  6. Andrew Abela says:

    You’re welcome Alex. Now check out and tell me what you think.

  7. Dave Gray says:

    This is really great Andrew!

  8. and ,if you mail me the soure file , I will translate it into chinese ,and introduce to chinese readers.

  9. Kelly says:

    fantastic! Thanks for this – so handy to have when you are a bit stuck for inspiration!

  10. Thanks a million for this great resource. I´ll distribute it to the rest of my colleagues.
    Many blessings,
    Art Gonzalez
    Check my Squidoo Lens at: Quantum Knights

  11. Eric Blue says:

    Excellent infoviz tips. Thanks for the PDF!

  12. Andrew Abela says:

    You are all very welcome. Glad you are finding it useful.

  13. MakeItBlue의 생각

    Choosing a good chart // Good to see

  14. Edison says:

    This is just what i need. And in PDF for printing. \o/
    I’d be glad to make a portuguese version (pt-BR) if I have the source file.

  15. Andrew Abela says:

    Glad you like it. Thanks for the offer, but we actually already have a Portuguese version – and Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese. Links are here:

  16. Media Literacy: Making Sense Of New Technologies And Media by George Siemens – Jan 24 09

    Location-aware devices, the importance of good visuals, generational distinctions, and open educational resources are just some of the fascinating topics included in this week issue of this Media Literacy digest. Photo credit: Mr_Stein How can you defi…

  17. Ivan Begtin says:

    Thanks for this chooser especially for PDF!
    I would like to create russian version. Is it possible to get source file?

  18. Andrew, since my trackback ping was labelled as spam by your server 🙁 I am posting the link directly:
    Great job, by the way (I just found out about it)

  19. Blogs are so interactive where we get lots of informative on any topics nice job keep it up !!

  20. renda extra says:

    Great post, i’ve already subscribed to your feed.

  21. Thanks! Great Diagram! So important to pick the right graph for the data you are showing. This has been very a very popular tweet from

  22. Till Zoltán says:

    I like this diagram.
    If you send me the source file then I make the Hungarian version.

  23. Heidi Green says:

    Is it ok if I hand this out in my Excel class next week? I’m going to be starting on charts and this would be oh so helpful. I do plan on giving you credit and pointing people to your site.

  24. Very nice and very helpful, Just want to say Keep it up.

  25. ed hardy says:

    Agree. It’s a good article that I can apply this for my routine. I loved it, so usefully. Thanks 🙂

  26. thanks admin exciting blog
    information is the most beautiful treasures

  27. Vapork King says:

    Good work drew Its a really good diagram.

  28. syntaxfree says:

    Couple of things off:
    For comparing two distributions, or one distribution to a theoretical distribution, what you want is a QQPlot, which looks somewhat like a scatter chart but is an entirely different thing. For comparing many distributions, you want boxplots. You probably would want candlesticks for a low-periodicity look at time-series (like showing daily data by month). Finally, to compare two really large sets of data you could consider something like the flower charts Stata does, but this would require some explanation.
    I do appreciate what you’re doing here, though – you’re encouraging people to be bold with their data presentation practices.

  29. candelarion says:

    This table is very useful for me. Thanks for sharing this. Great article! Great resource. I will share it to my classmates.

  30. Bob says:

    I have been tasked to create several charts for presentation of business models we have come up with as part of the business course requirements at
    and this post would be very helpful indeed. The various types of charts can sometimes be confusing but thanks to you, I now have a guide as to which works best with my report.

  31. herve leger says:

    great information you write it very clean. I am very lucky to get this tips from you.

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