What Are Area Charts and When Are They Meant To Be Used?

Data visualization is at the heart of understanding complex data. It provides a graphical representation of information and data using graphic elements. All data visualizations have a purpose, and one good example is the area chart. You’re not alone if you’ve found yourself wondering, “What are area charts?” In this article, we delve into the concept of area charts, how they work, their various types, benefits, and practical applications.

Understanding the Concept of Area Charts

The foundation of area charts lies in their simplicity and functionality. An area chart, also known as an area graph, presents quantitative data visually. It’s especially useful when one wants to depict a time-series relationship. Just like line charts, area charts can also depict trends over time, but with added emphasis on the magnitude of values.

Capitalizing on color fills, area charts provide valuable comparative insights, allowing viewers to understand which items are larger or growing faster. They feature a line chart, but with the area between the axis and line filled in, creating a sense of volume.

Area charts are instrumental in highlighting the overall trend instead of individual data values, making them ideal tools for analyzing multiple data series.

How Do Area Charts Work?

Understanding how area charts work is crucial in making the best out of their capabilities. Fundamentally, the area chart makes use of coordinates on the vertical and horizontal axes to plot data points. These points are then joined by line segments, forming a consistent series that’s easy to analyze.

The space under the plotted lines signifies volume, enabling analysts to interpret trends based on the area covered. So, not only do they capture trends over time, but area charts effectively represent the size of the value change over periods.

The Various Types of Area Charts

Depending on the data structure and the representation needs, different types of area charts can be used. The basic area chart is the standard type used to represent the change of one or more quantities over time. It plots out a line and all the area under the line is filled in with color or pattern to demonstrate volume.

Then there’s the stacked area chart. Often used when representing multiple data series, it stacks data series on top of each other, allowing for the comparison of multiple categories without losing the ability to see overall trends.

Lastly, is the 3D area chart. As the name suggests, it adds a third dimension to the graph. Though aesthetically pleasing, it can sometimes distort data perspective for the viewer.

Major Benefits of Using Area Charts

Area charts offer numerous benefits for data analysts and decision-makers alike. Firstly, they provide a clear visual of overall trends rather than individual data values. This facilitates faster interpretation of data trends and patterns over traditional spreadsheet data.

Their stacked model makes identifying changes in multiple data series quick and easy. It equally helps in indicating how different categories contribute to a total. This often unveils relationships that may have gone unnoticed in row data.

Practical Applications and Usage of Area Charts

The practical applications of area charts are wide-ranging. They’re widely used in finance to analyze stock price fluctuations over time. By representing the ebb and flow of stock prices over a given period, trends are easily identifiable.

They can also be used to plot weather patterns and climate changes. For example, you can analyze rainfall or temperature changes throughout the year. Similarly, in health care, they’re used to track disease patterns and patient recovery trends over time.

Moreover, area charts are commonly seen representing data like profits, losses, revenue, and more in business reports. They are handy for comparing multiple products over several periods or examining different expenses over time.

Altogether, area charts offer an effective and visually engaging way to display data over time. This makes them a valuable tool for any data analyst or decision-maker looking to track trends, compare categories, and deliver insights understandably.