Periodic Table of Visualization Methods

Alex Long  

January 29, 2007

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Here is something of interest to Edward Tufte fans: a handy resource for identifying when to use a graph or chart. The periodic table of visualization methods consists of 100 different information graphics organized like the periodic table into similar properties and functions. Simply roll over a selection to see an example. Some are useful for visualizing data relationships; others for brainstorming concepts; and others for developing arguments and strategies. The table includes everything from standard visual tools (such as pie charts and Venn diagrams) to more obscure ones (like box plots and tensor diagrams). It also identifies which methods are most effective for communicating detailed vs. summary information, process vs. structure, and divergent vs. convergent relationships. It’s useful when you need to present information visually to facilitate understanding, but are not sure of the best way to do it.