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Wellesley College Research Guides

Data Visualization

What Is Data Visualization?

Data visualization is the use of a visual or graphic display to communicate information. There are many different styles and varieties, and which type you choose will depend on the content that you want to communicate. Examples can range from hand drawn graphs and maps to infographics, charts, and diagrams. Use this guide to explore resources on how to visualize your data.

Introductions to Data Visualization

How to Choose a Visualization Type

Check out the Best Practices recommended below for suggestions on choosing the best visualization for exploring, analyzing, or presenting your data. The following resources are also useful:

  • Wellesley Professor Jeremy Wilmer's Show My Data Data Visualization Web Apps
  • Steve Franconeri's Quick Reference Guide
  • From Data to Viz. From Data to Viz leads you to the most appropriate graph for your data. It links to the code to build it and lists common caveats you should avoid.

Best Practices

General best practices for effective data visualization:

  • Have a clear purpose
  • Choose the best chart for your data and purpose
  • Keep the design simple
  • Have clear labels, titles, and descriptions
  • Create an accessible design


See the sources below for more details lists and sources on best practices.