Amy Balliett explains the dos and don'ts of using line graphs to communicate data. They are generally best for showing trends—and comparing multiple trends—over time. Other uses could end up complicating the data, so be sure to heed the information provided in this video before selecting your graph type.
- [Instructor] Much like a bar graph, line graphs display trends over time or category. But they do this quite differently. When showing data over time, a line graph is often better than a bar chart. This is because trend lines are clearer, allowing you to see change over time far easier. You can even break out different categories and show them using different lines over time. Here is an example of musician product sales over time. This view tells us a different story than the simple bar graph did.
It tells us that, one day, T-shirt sales grew past CD sales and have continued to grow. Put yourself in the mindset of that musician again. Would viewing the data from this angle make you pause and ask what you did differently that day? Maybe you set up your display differently, making T-shirts take center stage, pun intended. What doesn't work well for a line graph though is showing your categories across the X-axis.
What you see is a mix of dots and connecting lines that give you the same information as a bar chart, but incorporate a trend line that implies some form of change over time. When designing a line graph in Adobe Illustrator, start by choosing the Line Graph option from the graphing tool. Once you've created your graph, you'll see that the same box pops up, allowing you to input your numbers. Type the numbers you want to show in chronological order from top to bottom in the first column.
I'm making up data here. One, two, three, four, five. When I hit the check, you'll see the trend line appears. If you want to show multiple categories across multiple lines, then treat each column in your data input box as its own line and type the numbers in accordingly. For instance, three, eight, four, one, two. Once I hit the check, you'll see two different lines appear across the trend.
Line graphs are best used to show trends or change over time. I would suggest against using them otherwise, because they can complicate your message rather than make it easier to understand.
To succeed in design and marketing today, one must know how to interpret and properly visualize data. This course, developed and led by Killer Infographics CEO, Amy Balliett, walks you through the ins and outs of creating accurate and compelling data visualizations. Amy focuses on best practices, not tools, although she does provide an overview of Illustrator graphing features. Using these tips, you'll learn how to stand out from the crowd and create charts and graphs that combine precision with visual appeal.
- What charts and graphs work best for different types of data
- Putting data into visual and textual context to ensure it is accurate
- Visualizing data that doesn't lend itself to imagery
- Adding visual appeal without sacrificing accuracy
- Using the Adobe Illustrator graphing tools
- Avoiding common data viz mistakes