What Type of Graph Is Used for Discrete or Qualitative Data?


Scott Campbell

What Type of Graph Is Used for Discrete or Qualitative Data?

When it comes to representing data graphically, it’s important to choose the appropriate type of graph that best suits the nature of the data being presented. One key factor to consider is whether the data is discrete or qualitative in nature. Discrete or qualitative data refers to information that can be categorized into distinct groups or categories, rather than being continuous.

The Bar Graph

A commonly used type of graph for displaying discrete or qualitative data is the bar graph. Bar graphs are comprised of rectangular bars, where the length or height of each bar represents a specific category or group. The bars are typically arranged horizontally or vertically along an axis.

To create a bar graph, you’ll need two axes: one for the categories and another for the corresponding values. The categories are usually displayed on the x-axis (horizontal axis), while the values are represented on the y-axis (vertical axis). Each category is assigned a bar, and the height (or length) of each bar corresponds to its respective value.


  • Categorical Data: Colors
  • Categories: Red, Blue, Green
  • Values: 10, 15, 8

In this example, you would have three bars representing each color category (Red, Blue, Green) with their respective heights corresponding to their values (10, 15, 8).

The Pie Chart

An alternative option for displaying discrete or qualitative data is a pie chart. Pie charts represent data as wedges of a circle and are useful when comparing different categories in relation to the whole.

To create a pie chart, each category is assigned a wedge proportional to its value. The entire circle represents the total value or 100%. Each wedge’s size is determined by its percentage of the total value.


  • Categorical Data: Fruits
  • Categories: Apples, Oranges, Bananas
  • Values: 30%, 20%, 50%

In this example, you would have three wedges representing each fruit category (Apples, Oranges, Bananas) with their respective sizes proportional to their values (30%, 20%, 50%).

The Line Graph

While bar graphs and pie charts are commonly used for discrete or qualitative data, there are cases where a line graph may also be suitable. Line graphs are particularly useful when examining trends over time or comparing data points in a sequence.

In a line graph, each data point is represented by a dot connected by lines. The x-axis represents time or another continuous variable, while the y-axis represents the corresponding values.

The Scatter Plot

If you want to analyze relationships between two variables with discrete or qualitative data points, a scatter plot can be helpful. Scatter plots use individual data points rather than bars or wedges to represent each observation.

In a scatter plot, one variable is represented on the x-axis and the other on the y-axis. Each data point is plotted at the intersection of its respective x and y values.

In Conclusion

When working with discrete or qualitative data, it’s essential to choose an appropriate graph type that effectively represents the information at hand. The bar graph, pie chart, line graph, and scatter plot are all valuable tools in visually conveying this type of data. By understanding the characteristics of each graph and their applications, you can create engaging visualizations that effectively convey your data’s story.

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