When to use what type of visualization

A good visualization clearly presents relationships among many values, and lets you analyze data at a glance. Qlik Sense offers a range of visualizations and charts. Each chart excels at visualizing data in different ways for different purposes. You should select your charts by deciding what you want to see from the data in your charts.

If you are unsure of what visualizations to use, Qlik Sense can offer recommendations. For more information, see Creating visualizations from your data using Insight Advisor andCreating visualizations using chart suggestions.

The following lists the purposes for viewing data and the chart type recommended to achieve that purpose:

Viewing comparisons

Comparison charts are used to compare values against each other. They show the differences in values, such as the difference between categories, or how values are changing over time.

Questions that might be answered by comparison charts include:

  • What product has the highest total sales this year?
  • How have product sales risen or fallen over the last 24 months?
Chart types for viewing comparisons
Chart type Common purpose
Bar chart Comparing categories against the same measure or measures.
Line chart Comparing trends over time.
Combo chart Comparing measures that are different in scale.

If you want to compare different values of the same dimension, you can use alternate states. For more information, see Using alternate states for comparative analysis.

Viewing relationships

Relationship charts are used to explore how values relate to each other. A relationship chart allows you to find correlations, outliers, and clusters of data.

Questions that might be answered by relationship charts include:

  • Is there a correlation between advertising spending and sales for our products?
  • How do expenses and income vary per region?
Chart types for viewing relationships
Chart type Common purpose
Scatter plot Viewing the relationship between two or three measures for a dimension.

Viewing compositions

Composition charts take a total value and discover what component values make up that total. Composition charts can be static, showing the current composition of a total value, or they can show how the composition of a total value changes over time. Composition charts can display compositions either by percentage of the total value or the fixed values in the total value.

Questions that might be answered by composition charts include:

  • What percentages of our total sales come from which regions?
  • What is each department's allotment of our total quarterly budget over the past year?
Chart types for viewing compositions
Chart type Common purpose
Bar chart Viewing the changing composition of a value over a short period of time.
Line chart Viewing the changing composition of a value over a long period of time.
Pie chart Viewing the static composition of a value.
Waterfall chart Viewing the static composition of a value with accumulation or subtraction to the total.
Treemap Viewing the static composition of a value's accumulation to the total.

Viewing distributions

Distribution charts are used to explore how the values within data are grouped. Distribution charts show you the shape of your data, the range of its values, and possible outliers.

Questions that might be answered by distribution charts include: 

  • What is the number of customers per age group?
  • What cities have the highest use of our services?
Chart types for viewing distributions
Chart type Common purpose
Histogram Viewing the how data is distributed over intervals.
Scatter plot Viewing the distribution of two measures.
Distribution plot Viewing the distribution of measure values in a dimension.
Box plot Viewing the range and distribution of numerical data.

Viewing performances

Performance charts provide a quick view of a performance measure. Looking at a performance chart, a user can quickly identify the measure value and whether the results are as expected or not.

Questions that might be answered by performance charts include:

  • What are is the current total sales for this quarter?
  • Are current total sales for this quarter meeting the projected sales for the quarter?
Chart types for viewing performances
Chart type Common purpose
Gauge Viewing a performance value to understand performance immediately.
KPI Viewing one or two performance measures.
Text & image Viewing text or several measures with an image.

Viewing data

Data charts present detailed data rather than a visualization of the data. Data charts are useful when you need to view precise values, and when you want to compare individual values.

Questions that might be answered by data charts include:

  • What are the records for each transaction for this month?
  • What are the quantity and sales for each item in each product group for each of our customers?
Chart types for viewing data
Chart type Common purpose
Table Viewing precise values from your data without trends or patterns.
Pivot table Viewing precise value for several dimensions and measures.

Viewing geography

Geographical charts let you visualize your data by geography, displaying your data on a map either as points or areas.

Common questions that might be answered by geographical charts include:

  • What cities have the highest use of our services?
  • Which countries have the most customers?
Chart types for viewing geography
Chart type Common purpose
Maps Viewing data represented geographically by point or area.

What if no standard chart suits my purpose?

You can use visualization extensions from an extension bundle supplied by Qlik:

You can also create custom visualization objects if none of the standard charts provided fit your requirements for visualizing your data.

For more information, see Creating a visualization using a custom object.

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