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Tailoring infographics to specific types of data, part I

live in an age where billions of pieces of content are exchanged on a daily basis

In this three-part Insights article, I’ll be discussing guidelines for choosing chart types that match different types of online data/information.

Here’s what Dennis Ghyst, our VP of Content and Marketing, had to say about the advantages of infographics in his two-part Insights series on Infographics.

“We live in an age where billions of pieces of content are exchanged on a daily basis – so it’s no surprise that visual aids, especially infographics, have become indispensable (whether static or interactive) in online digital marketing. … (And) you don’t have to be a graphic designer to create an infographic if you use one of the free online tools to guide you through the process”.

Three of the most commonly used infographics include–


November 2015


Line charts are a familiar way of presenting trends over time. Examples include week-to-week revenue report views and trends.

Be cautious, however, when interpreting (or displaying) either axis. If the data are conflated, changes can look dramatic when they’re only minor. Purveyors of disinformation often deliberately create such graphics to mislead viewers, one of the many ways that some ‘experts’ lie with statistics.

Line graphs and bar charts can be combined to good effect. In fact, many types of graphics can be combined to reinforce data findings. For example, you might post a bar chart illustrating yearly product sales combined with a line graph indicating growth in market share.


Bar charts are a great way to compare discrete data highs and lows that highlight change over time.  Appropriate subjects could include interdepartmental spending patterns, sales of different car products or a state-by-state breakdown of website viewers.

Another benefit–By combining different, but related, bar charts on one page, you give the viewer access to information that helps answer multiple questions at once, saving them the time and effort of searching through multiple sources .

One of many excellent options is to integrate bar charts with maps. By clicking on a given country, for example, a bar chart could open to show demographic data.

Finally, viewers expect you to use color in all types of graphics, so don’t disappoint them!


Pie charts are the best graphic for displaying percentages or proportions. However, their use is limited almost entirely to that purpose, making them the most misused of all chart graphics.




Comparing data is better achieved with the use of bars or stacked data. Things get lost in translation when you compare pie charts next to one another. Instead, use pie charts to illustrate things like survey responses breakdowns, or how a budget is distributed across departments.

Another cautionary note–graphics experts recommend you limit your pie charts to six wedges. Things get confusing for the reader, otherwise. Also, as with bar charts, pies can be used to highlight geographical trends.

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