What Type of Data Is Graphed?


Heather Bennett

When it comes to graphing data, it’s important to understand the different types of data that can be represented visually. Graphs are an effective way of conveying information in a concise and easy-to-understand manner. In this article, we will explore the various types of data that can be graphed and how they are used.

Categorical Data

Categorical data is information that falls into specific categories or groups. This type of data is qualitative and non-numeric, making it ideal for visual representation. Examples of categorical data include gender, occupation, and favorite color.

When graphing categorical data, it is common to use a bar chart or a pie chart. A bar chart displays each category as a separate bar, while a pie chart represents each category as a slice of a circle.


  • Gender: Male – 40%, Female – 60%
  • Occupation: Student – 30%, Engineer – 40%, Teacher – 20%, Other – 10%

Numerical Data

Numerical data, on the other hand, consists of quantitative values that can be measured or counted. This type of data can be further divided into two categories: discrete and continuous.

Discrete Data

Discrete data refers to values that are separate and distinct. These values cannot take on any intermediate value between two points. Examples of discrete data include the number of siblings someone has or the number of pets in a household.

A common way to graph discrete numerical data is through a bar chart or a line graph. A bar chart represents each value as a separate bar, while a line graph connects the data points with lines.


  • Number of siblings: 0 – 20%, 1 – 30%, 2 – 40%, 3 – 10%
  • Number of pets: 0 – 50%, 1 – 30%, 2 – 15%, >2 – 5%

Continuous Data

Continuous data, on the other hand, can take on any value within a given range. This type of data is often measured and can include values such as height, weight, or temperature.

When graphing continuous numerical data, commonly used charts include line graphs, scatter plots, or histograms. Line graphs are useful for showing trends over time, scatter plots display the relationship between two variables, and histograms depict the distribution of data.


  • Height (in cm): Range [140-190]
    • Data points:
    • [145,150],[155,160],[165,170],[175,180],[185]
  • Note: The above example is simplified to demonstrate continuous data representation.

Mixed Data Types

Sometimes data can be a combination of categorical and numerical values. For instance, in a survey about favorite movies where respondents are asked to rate movies on a scale of one to five stars and also provide their gender. This mixed data requires using different types of graphs to represent the different data types accurately.

When dealing with mixed data types, it’s essential to select the appropriate graph for each type of information. In our movie rating example, a bar chart or a pie chart can be used to represent the gender distribution, while a line graph or a scatter plot can show the relationship between movie ratings and other variables.

Understanding the type of data being graphed is crucial in effectively communicating information. By selecting the appropriate graph and utilizing HTML styling elements like bold, underline,


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  • , you can create visually engaging and organized graphs that make your data easy to comprehend.

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