13 Most Effective Chart Types


13 Most Effective Chart Types

Charts are an essential part of many business actions and operations (especially in the tech community), but which are the most beneficial for conveying information?

After all, there are line graphs, pie charts, waterfall charts, word clouds, area charts, and many other kinds.

The simple version is that there are no universally effective charts, only the best choice for the data you want to show.

That said, several chart types show up more often than others. Here are the main ones you should learn how to make and use.

Bar Graph

Arguably the best-known graph in the world, bar graphs display horizontal lines along a measurement axis, each line representing another detail.

Horizontal bar graphs tend to work better for businesses, where they can showcase growth over time, customer activities, or any number of other critical details.

Box Plot

Box plots show a distribution of values and where most data points lie. The upper and lower ends of each column show where the outliers go, while a denser and more distinct box shows the real range of values. These are most insightful when comparing several data groups, such as sales from stores in different regions.

Bullet Chart

A bullet chart is similar to a bar graph but enhances the data with an additional bar inside the others to help contextualize the bar’s value. That can be an illuminating means of demonstrating, for instance, progress toward a goal.

Column Chart

A column chart is similar to a bar graph but with vertical lines instead of horizontal ones. This type of chart is well-suited for showing changes in measurement over time, such as sales per month. Column charts have an edge over bar graphs when displaying negative data, such as product returns.


Flowcharts are a fantastic option for showcasing decisions and choices people make. That could be for internal company operations, but it’s also valuable for explaining marketing strategies and highlighting the stages where people tend to make purchasing decisions or jump out of the marketing funnel.

Funnel Chart

A funnel chart is an inverted pyramid showing a pipeline of actions and how they lead to a result. The upper level of each section is how a section starts, while its bottom is how much it shrinks to get to the next section.

For example, companies always have fewer clicks than impressions and even fewer conversions. A funnel chart can provide an insightful overview of how well this changes. Don’t forget the context, though, so viewers understand what a typical performance looks like.

Heat Map 

Heat maps show a relationship between two points of data and some rating, such as value or customer response.

By using techniques like color saturation, you’ll find it easy to see which data points are the most impactful and which are less relevant to your company.

A heat map can also show which customer demographics are the most valuable or what times of day bring the highest sales.

Line Graph

A line graph is fundamentally similar to a column chart. However, instead of having vertical columns, it has points connected by lines.

These lines can be curved instead of straight, which allows you to show some nuance in how the points connect.

For example, there may be a sudden spike or drop between different points rather than a smooth and even line.

Map Plots

Map plots are essentially the same as heat maps but tied to geographic distribution instead of two values.

This visual representation can make data easy to follow and evaluate, such as where customers are most likely to come from or which parts of a store customers visit. Maps can be for topics of almost any size.

Pie Chart

Pie charts are in their element when comparing several points of data as they compare to a whole. For instance, you can use a pie chart to help you better understand where your customers are coming from or which days of the week get the most sales.

However, pie charts tend to start failing once you have more than four or five points of data you want to compare.

They’re also more effective when there are distinct differences in the data points. If each section has a similar size, it can be hard to tell which is more important.

Scatter Plot

Scatter plots help show data correlation and clusters in larger data sets. These aren’t good for smaller amounts of data.

Still, if the order of points isn’t essential, they can show the overall trend and some important outliers in a single chart.

Stacked Bar Chart

Stacked bar charts are essentially bar or column charts, but with several data points in each line. These can show how several points of data relate to the total result without changing graph types.

Many companies use stacked bar charts to show the values of different departments or a breakdown of significant costs.

Waterfall Chart

Waterfall charts aren’t as well-known as other options, but they’re great for many business presentations. These charts are similar to column charts but show changes to the initial and final values.

They are a great way to showcase how different costs and revenue sources enter into a particular calculation.

For instance, you can start with a marketing budget and show employee costs. Then, you can use the chart to see how much those employees earned to provide the company with a return on its investment.

Final Thoughts

Data is the heart of a modern business. It’s already an industry valued in the hundreds of billions, and society is producing more information all the time.

From identifying problems to predicting trends, there’s no shortage of ways that data can help companies.

However, data is meaningless if you don’t have the right approach to display it and draw meaningful conclusions.

From heat maps to waterfall charts, using a visual representation is one of the best tools to contextualize data that’s easier to understand. Once you know your options for displaying the data, it’s far easier to get the real value from big data.

Are you an Entrepreneur or Startup?
Do you have a Success Story to Share?
SugerMint would like to share your success story.
We cover entrepreneur Stories, Startup News, Women entrepreneur stories, and Startup stories

Read more business articles from our guest authors at SugerMint. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn