What Type of Graph Is Best for Categorical Data?


Scott Campbell

When it comes to visualizing categorical data, choosing the right type of graph is essential. Different types of graphs have their own strengths and weaknesses, and understanding these can help you effectively communicate your data. In this article, we will explore the various types of graphs that are best suited for categorical data.

Bar Graphs

One of the most commonly used graphs for categorical data is the bar graph. Bar graphs are excellent for comparing different categories or groups.

They are easy to interpret and provide a clear visual representation of the data. With a bar graph, you can easily see which categories have higher or lower values.

To create a bar graph, you simply need to plot the categories on the x-axis and the corresponding values on the y-axis. Each category will have its own bar, and the height of each bar represents its value.


  • Fruit Consumption:
    • Apples: 50
    • Oranges: 30
    • Bananas: 40

Pie Charts

Pie charts are another popular choice for displaying categorical data. They are particularly useful when you want to show how different categories contribute to a whole or compare proportions.

A pie chart consists of slices representing each category, with each slice’s size corresponding to its proportionate value in relation to the whole. The entire pie represents 100% of the data.


  • Fruit Consumption:
    • Apples: 40%
    • Oranges: 25%
    • Bananas: 35%

Stacked Bar Graphs

When you want to compare categories while also showing the distribution within each category, stacked bar graphs are an excellent choice. They allow you to visualize both the total value of each category and its composition.

In a stacked bar graph, each category has its own bar, and the bar is divided into segments representing different subcategories or components. The height of the bar represents the total value for that category, while the segments represent the proportions of subcategories.


  • Fruit Consumption:
    • Apples:
      • Red Apples: 30
      • Green Apples: 20
    • Oranges:
      • Mandarins: 15
      • Tangerines: 15
    • Bananas:
      • Ripe Bananas: 25
      • Unripe Bananas: 15


In conclusion, there are several types of graphs that work well for visualizing categorical data. Bar graphs are great for comparing categories, pie charts help illustrate proportions, and stacked bar graphs allow you to show both total values and compositions within categories. It’s important to choose the graph type that best suits your data and effectively communicates your message.

By using the appropriate graph and styling elements like bold text, underlined text,

    unordered lists

, and

  • list items
  • , you can make your data more engaging and organized. Remember to consider the nature of your categorical data and choose the graph that best represents it.

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