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Visualize your Data

Learn how to create effective data visualizations.

Is a data visualization project right for you?

Data visualizations include simple graphs like bar and pie charts, scatter plots, and line graphs, but they can also be more complicated, like network visualizations. This guide will walk you through the process of deciding if a data visualization project is a good choice for your research.

The most important thing to remember about data visualization is that they are meant to make data easier to understand. Do not inadvertently make the data harder to understand with a confusing or overly complicated visual. The more you create data visualizations, the better you'll become at clarifying the dataset with the visual. See Making an Effective Data Visualization for examples. 

If you ever have questions about data visualization, want to discuss your research, or talk about training opportunities, reach out to the Digital Scholarship and Publishing department at

Choosing a Data Visualization

We often think of data as numeric, but it can also be text, images, qualitative, time-based, spatial, and more. The best type of visualization for your research will depend on the data you're using and what you want to show on your visualization. 

When choosing your visualization, consider the following:

  • What kind of data do you have? 
    • Summary statistics? Time-based? Categorical? GIS or spatial? 
  • What format is it in?
    • Is it tabular (spreadsheet) data or free text?
  • What do you want to show? 
    • Changes over time? Comparisons between a few separate categories? 

A great place to research data visualizations and find ones suitable to your goals is the Data Visualization Catalogue. You can search by function to see those appropriate to your data type or general visualization method.