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Choosing a Graph Type

Illustrator's nine graph types cover quite a lot of territory, and they can be combined within one graph to offer even more variety. Each one is best suited to a particular type of data, so you'll generally choose a graph type based on the kind of information you want to present. The choices are as follows:

• ColumnThis is the most common graph, with vertical rectangles comparing one set of values or groups of values (see Figure 18.1).

Figure 18.1. Column graphs can compare a single group of numbers or multiple groups of numbers.

• Stacked ColumnThis kind of column graph allows you to stack groups of columns vertically so that you can compare numbers to each other as well as see the components of those numbers (see Figure 18.2).

Figure 18.2. Stacked column graphs allow you to compare groups of numbers and their component numbers.

• BarBar graphs are similar to column graphs, except that they are horizontal instead of vertical (see Figure 18.3).

Figure 18.3. Bar graphs use a horizontal orientation.

• Stacked BarStacked bar graphs are the horizontal version of stacked column graphs (see Figure 18.4).

Figure 18.4. Stacked bar graphs look like stacked column graphs, except that they are laid out horizontally.

• LineLine graphs are usually used to show trends over time, with the horizontal axis representing time and the vertical axis representing values such as population or price (see Figure 18.5).

Figure 18.5. Line graphs show trends—like the value of the stock market.

• AreaArea graphs look like line graphs, except that the area below each line is filled in with shading and each value is stacked on top of the previous value (see Figure 18.6). These graphs emphasize the differences between series of numbers.

Figure 18.6. Area graphs give a more accurate idea of the differences between multiple series of numbers by shading the area their lines bound.

• ScatterScatter plots use the x,y coordinate system you'll recall from high school geometry to plot points along the two axes (see Figure 18.7). They're used to show patterns and trends and to determine what variables affect each other.

Figure 18.7. Scatter graphs show points on an x,y plot.

• PiePie charts show quantities as portions of a circle (see Figure 18.8).

Figure 18.8. Pie charts are the familiar round graphs showing the proportions of each number within a circle.

• RadarThese graphs show x,y values plotted on a circular chart, with x values shown along the circle's radii and y values shown along the x “spokes” (see Figure 18.9). Also called web graphs, they're usually used to compare values within categories or at various points in time.

Figure 18.9. Radar graphs show differences between value series and also demonstrate the regularity (or lack thereof) of a series' progression.

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