What Type of Data Do You Need to Create a Mosaic Plot?


Angela Bailey

Creating a mosaic plot is an effective way to visualize categorical data. To create a mosaic plot, you need specific types of data that can be categorized into multiple groups. In this article, we will explore the different types of data that are suitable for creating a mosaic plot and how to structure them effectively.

The Basics of Mosaic Plot

A mosaic plot is a graphical representation that displays the relationship between two or more categorical variables. It consists of rectangular tiles, each representing a category from one variable.

The size of each tile corresponds to the proportion of observations within that category. The tiles are further divided into smaller rectangles, representing the categories from another variable. The color or shading within each tile provides additional information about the distribution.

Data Requirements for Mosaic Plot

To create a meaningful and informative mosaic plot, you need the following types of data:

  • Categorical Variables: Mosaic plots require at least two categorical variables to compare and analyze simultaneously. These variables should have discrete categories.
  • Frequency or Count Data: You also need the frequency or count data associated with each combination of categories from both variables. This information allows you to calculate proportions and determine the size of each tile in the mosaic plot.
  • Cross-tabulated Data: The data should be cross-tabulated, meaning it should be organized in a contingency table format where rows represent one variable’s categories, columns represent another variable’s categories, and cells contain the frequency or count data.

An Example Scenario

Let’s consider an example scenario where we want to analyze the relationship between gender (male/female) and occupation (doctor/engineer/teacher) in a company. We collect survey responses from 100 employees and categorize them into these two variables. The resulting cross-tabulated data could look like this:

Doctor Engineer Teacher
Male 20 15 10
Female 10 25 20

The data above satisfies the requirements for creating a mosaic plot. We have two categorical variables (gender and occupation) and the corresponding frequency data for each combination of categories.

Tips for Creating Engaging Mosaic Plots

Mosaic plots can be visually engaging when presented effectively. Here are some tips to enhance the visual appeal of your mosaic plots:

  • Title: Provide a clear and descriptive title that summarizes the main purpose or findings of your mosaic plot.
  • Color Scheme: Choose an appropriate color scheme that helps distinguish between different categories and highlights patterns or differences in the data.
  • Labeled Axes: Label both axes of your mosaic plot to provide context and make it easier for readers to interpret the plot.
  • Tooltips or Hover Effects: Consider adding tooltips or hover effects to display additional information when users interact with specific tiles in the mosaic plot.
  • Data Labels: Add labels within each tile to display the exact proportion or count associated with that category combination.

By following these tips, you can create visually appealing and informative mosaic plots that effectively communicate your data analysis.


In summary, creating a mosaic plot requires categorical variables, frequency or count data, and cross-tabulated data. By organizing your data appropriately and incorporating engaging visual elements, you can create mosaic plots that effectively communicate relationships between categorical variables.

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