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11 Ways to Visualize Changes Over Time – A Guide

(An excellent introduction to the right way to use graphics to visualize data.)

Deal with data? No doubt you’ve come across the time-based variety. The visualization you use to explore and display that data changes depending on what you’re after and data types. Maybe you’re looking for increases and decreases, or maybe seasonal patterns.

This is a guide to help you figure out what type of visualization to use to see that stuff.

Let’s start with the basics: the line graph. This will work for most of your time series data. Use it when you have a lot of a points or just a few. Place multiple time series on one graph or place one. Mark the data points with squares, circles, or none at all. Basically, if you’re not sure what to use, the line graph will usually do the trick.

An example: Comparing Roger Clemens to Hall of Fame Pitchers

Scatterplots work well if you have a lot of data points. Because the dots are small, it doesn’t work well if you only have a few points. Scatterplots also work well when your measurements aren’t nicely structured. For example, if your measurements aren’t equally spaced, a line graph probably wouldn’t work.

An example: Oxygen Concentration Over Time

Click here to read the rest of this seminal introductory article

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