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Understanding Area Graphs

Mike Cisneros takes us through the proper usage of area graphs:

Area graphs can be effective for:

– Showing the rise and fall of various data series over time
– Conveying total amounts over time as well as some sub-categorical breakdowns (but only to a point)
– Emphasizing a part-to-whole relationship over time when one part is very large, or changes from being very large to very small
– Showing change over time in individual panels of a small multiple chart

Area graphs are not the ideal choice for:

– Data sets on scales that do not have a meaningful relationship to zero
– Showing several volatile data sets over time
– Showing fine differences in values

In this post, we’ll talk about how an area graph works, and some of the challenges to keep in mind when you are considering creating one.

Click through for a detailed analysis. I will rarely use area graphs, but in the right use case, they can add a strong visual dynamic to a report.