DataViz Reference Guides

Chart choosers, reference sheets, helpful guides and design resources!


Core Principles of Data Visualization

Jon Schwabish from PolicyViz has published a fantastic 2-sided cheatsheet of the Core Principles of Data Visualization. The images are available on his blog, or you can download the PDF version from PolicyViz for $1

Use the code coolinfographics for 10% OFF everything in the PolicyViz store!

The Data Visualisation Catalogue

The Data Visualisation Catalogue is a free online resource developed by Severino Ribecca to create a reference library of different information visualization types. You can filter the visualization types by function to help choose the right chart type for your data, and the details for each visualization includes a full description and anatomy, links to examples of the chart in practice and links to tools to create your own.

Visualizing Percentages & Parts of a Whole

Working with percentages is very common, and one of the most challenging parts of designing data visualizations is coming up with new ways to visualize your data. One of the exercises I have student do in class is brainstorm a list of the many ways to visualize percentages, and I created this reference sheet of the Top 20 Ways to Visualize Percentages from their work. I hope it gives you some ideas for different ways to visualize percentage data, and help you break out of always using pie charts.

Available as a downloadable PDF from the InfoNewt site.

Sizing Circles for Data Visualization

To correctly size circles (or bubbles) in a data visualization, the designer has to adjust the proportional AREA of each circle. It is a common mistake to adjust the diameter for each circle, because width and height are the common input fields in design software. Charting software, like Excel or Tableau, does this automatically in Bubble Charts, but if you want control over the layout of the circles, you'll need to design your own.

The reference sheet is available as a downloadable PDF from the InfoNewt site.

The Chart Chooser

This is the original Chart Chooser that was designed and published by Dr. Andrew Abela, author of the books The Presentation, Advanced Presentations By Design and the Encyclopedia of Slide Layouts. The Chart Chooser is a flowchart guide that starts in the center, asking what type of data you have to work with, and then flows outward to identify the types of charts that are appropriate to your data.

Available on his website as a free downloadable PDF, and also available in Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese!

The Chart Chooser Dissected

Patrik Lundblad at Qlik created a downloadable color version of the Chart Chooser PDF that also has additional pages that dissect each of the chart groups: Comparison, Composition, Distribution and Relationship.

The Chart Chooser: Interactive Version by Juice Analytics

Juice Analytics got permission from Dr. Abela to create this interactive version of The Chart Chooser that is available to everyone.

The Graphic Continuum

Jon Schwabish and Severino Ribecca collaborated together to create The Graphic Continuum, with more than 90 graphic types grouped into 6 categories on a laminated 8.5″x11″ sheet. It does not include every type of graphic, nor does it display every type of link between visualization, but it serves as a thought-starter. Use it to develop ideas, consider different options, or simply as a piece of art.

Use the code coolinfographics for 10% OFF everything in the PolicyViz store!

Also available as a poster print!

Financial Times Visual Vocabulary

A poster (available in EnglishJapanesetraditional Chinese and simplified Chinese) and web site to assist designers and journalists to select the optimal symbology for data visualisations, by the Financial Times Visual Journalism Team.

The FT Visual Vocabulary is at the core of a newsroom-wide training session aimed at improving chart literacy. This learning resource is inspired by the Graphic Continuum by Jon Schwabish and Severino Ribecca. This is not an attempt to teach everyone how to make charts, but how to recognise the opportunities to use them effectively alongside words.

The Data Viz Project

The Data Viz Project is a website trying to present all relevant data visualizations, so you can find the right visualization and get inspired how to make them. It started out as an internal tool box at ferdio, an infographic and data visualization agency in Copenhagen, and grew into a public website where you and others can use it as a tool and inspiration.

Graphic Cheat Sheet

The Graphic Cheat Sheet was designed by Mike Parkinson, and is a very popular handout distributed at his conference talks. He has updated it numerous times over the years, and it’s available to download as a PDF. 60 different graphic types are grouped as Simple, Complex or Quantitative and shown when they can apply to be used to communicate 13 different types of data.

How To Choose Your Charts

Infographic from iDashboards that groups chart types into four main categories: Distribution, Relationship, Composition and Comparison.

A Classification of Chart Types

Designed by Jorge Camões, author of Data at Work and the website Jorge built this classification of chart types while writing his book, and it breaks down the various charts into answering six types of data questions, three of them involving data comparison and the other three data reduction.

How To Think Visually Using Visual Analogies

This infographic from Anna Vital at Adioma groups 72 different visualization methods into four main categories: Charts & Diagrams, Abstract Analogies, Analogies, and Allegories. This goes beyond the traditional numerical data visualization methods to include more conceptual visual styles and diagrams often used in business environments.

The Visualization Universe

The Visualization Universe is an interactive guide to data visualization charts, books and tools, and was designed as a collaboration between Google News Lab and Adioma.

Graph Selection Matrix

The Graph Selection Matrix comes from Stephen Few’s book, Show Me The Numbers, and is available as a stand-alone PDF download.

Play Your Charts Right

Play Your Charts Rights is a free, downloadable PDF poster with 12 great data visualization tips from Geckoboard. They will also send you a print poster upon request! Hang it in the office as a constant reminder for your team!