Creating and understanding charts

Charts are a great way to show a large amount of data. They can represent numbers, words, measurements or observations in a way that makes them easier to understand and analyse.

It is important to make sure that the data on your chart is presented clearly and can be understood by anyone who looks at it. They shouldn't have to ask you to explain it.

There are lots of different types of chart to choose from. Click on the icons to find out about some of the most common ones.

It’s really important when you’re making a chart that you choose the right type, otherwise the information might be very tricky for others to understand.

Evaluating your chosen chart

Once you have made you chart, it is important to evaluate how the data is displayed.

Ask yourself

■ Does the chart accurately represent the data that you have collected?

■ Do you understand it?

■ Will others understand it?

■ Does the chart have a title to explain what the data is showing?

An illustration to show how important it is to label charts.
It is important to evaluate your chart. In this example the chart does not have any labels for the x and y axis. Without the labels it is not possible to understand what the chart is showing.

Using your chart

Graphs and charts are a really clever way of summing up your data. You might have an enormous table with hundreds or thousands of results which would be very hard to understand, but you can simplify this into a single, easy-to-read chart.

Interpreting your results

From this chart you can interpret your results, spot trends or make predictions about what might happen in the future.

For example, a supermarket might track all the different items it sells over the year. It could then use a chart to see when some items are more popular and order in additional stock to make sure they don’t run out.

When you are analysing your chart, it can help to ask yourself questions like:

■ What does the chart show?

■ Are you surprised by it?

■ What does this mean?

An illustration of chart being reviewed.
A girl balancing on a ladder while making a chart