Charles Schaefer’s session at TCC11 “Understanding and Working with Chart Types” included this decent flow diagram for choosing a chart type. As the title says, it’s “A Thought-Starter”. In other words, use it as a way to get you going down the right path. This absolutely shouldn’t be taken as gospel; use your common sense. For example:
- Don’t ever create 3D area charts. In fact, don’t ever create a 3D chart of ANY kind.
- Never create a circular area chart
- When created a stacked column chart don’t connecting the same colored bars with lines.
You can download the materials from Charles’ session here. Included are a JPG and PDF version of the flow chart.
The flowchart originates from a blog post back in 2006 on The Extreme Presentation Method blog. This blog, in turn, links to an interactive version of the chart chooser on Juice Analytics. Although Tableau does a lot of this thinking for you, definitely check out the interactive tool to get a feel for some best practices and download the sample excel workbooks to quickly recreate these charts yourself.