About visualization types
There are many types of visualizations to choose from in Insights. You'll find a short description of each visualization type below.
Bar & column charts
Bar charts are the standard for looking at a specific value across different categories.
Stacked bar chart
- Used to compare parts of a whole across categories.
- Use this to show how segments of a whole change over time.
Stacked column chart
- Used to compare parts of a whole.
- Use this to show how segments of a whole change over time.
Clustered bar chart
- Used to compare values across a few categories.
- Use this when the chart shows duration or when the category text is long.
Clustered column chart
- Used to compare values across a few categories.
- Use this when the order of categories is not important.
100% stacked bar chart
- Used to show proportions parts of a whole that are stacked to represent 100% across categories.
- Use it to show numbers that relate to a larger sum and always equal to 100%.
- Used to display trends over time (years, months, days and intervals) or categories when the order is important.
- Use this when there are many data points and the order is important.
The basic area chart is based on the line chart. The area between axis and line is filled with colors to indicate volume.
- Area charts emphasize the magnitude of change over time, and can be used to draw attention to the total value across a trend.
- Basic area charts are a great choice to see and compare the volume trend across time series and for individual series representing a physically countable set.
NOTE As a rule, consider using a line chart instead of a non-stacked area chart, because data from one series can be hidden behind data from another series.
Stacked area chart
- Stacked area charts show the trend of the contribution of each value over time or other category data.
- Stacked area charts are a great choice to see and compare the volume trend and the contribution of each value across time or if there is more than one series.
A combo chart combines a column chart and a line chart. Combining the two charts into one lets you make a quicker comparison of the data. Combo charts can have one or two Y axes.
Combo charts are a great choice in these situations.
- When you have a line chart and a column chart with the same X axis.
- To compare multiple measures with different value ranges.
- To illustrate the correlation between two measures in one visualization.
- To check whether one measure meet the target which is defined by another measure.
- To conserve canvas space.
Line and stacked column chart
- Used to show some data series as stacked columns and others as lines in the same chart.
Line and clustered column chart
- Used to show some data series as columns and others as lines in the same chart.
- Effective at showing rank change, with the highest range (value) always displayed on top for each time period.
- They are a great choice when you quickly want to discover which data category has the highest rank (largest value).
NOTE Since the ribbon chart does not have Y axis labels, you may want to add data labels. From the Formatting pane, select Data labels.
A waterfall chart shows a running total as values are added or subtracted. It's useful for understanding how an initial value (for example, net income) is affected by a series of positive and negative changes.
The columns are color-coded so you can quickly tell increases and decreases. The initial and the final value columns often start on the horizontal axis, while the intermediate values are floating columns. Because of how they look, waterfall charts are also called bridge charts.
Waterfall charts are a great choice in these situations.
- When you have changes for the measure across time series or different categories.
- To audit the major changes contributing to the total value.
- To plot your company's annual profit by showing various sources of revenue and arrive at the total profit (or loss).
- To illustrate the beginning and the ending headcount for your company in a year.
- To visualize how much money you make and spend each month, and the running balance for your account.
Scatter charts displays relationships between 2 (scatter) or 3 (bubble) quantitative measures -- whether or not, in which order, etc.
A scatter chart always has two value axes to show one set of numerical data along a horizontal axis and another set of numerical values along a vertical axis. The chart displays points at the intersection of an x and y numerical value, combining these values into single data points. These data points may be distributed evenly or unevenly across the horizontal axis, depending on the data. A bubble chart replaces data points with bubbles, with the bubble size representing an additional dimension of the data.
Scatter charts are a great choice when you want to show relationships between two sets of values.
Pie & donut
A pie chart shows the relationship of parts to a whole. The sum of the pie chart values must add up to 100%. Too many categories makes it difficult to read and interpret.
Pie charts are a great choice when you want to compare a particular section to the whole, rather than comparing individual sections with each other.
A donut chart is very similar to a pie chart in that it shows the relationship of parts to a whole. The only difference is that the center is blank and allows space for a label or icon.
Treemaps display hierarchical data as a set of nested rectangles. Each level of the hierarchy is represented by a colored rectangle (often called a "branch") containing other rectangles ("leaves"). The space inside each rectangle is allocated based on the value being measured. The rectangles are arranged in size from top left (largest) to bottom right (smallest).
Treemaps are a great choice in these situations.
- To display large amounts of hierarchical data.
- When a bar chart can't effectively handle the large number of values.
- To show the proportions between each part and the whole.
- To show the pattern of the distribution of the measure across each level of categories in the hierarchy.
- To show attributes using size and color coding.
- To spot patterns, outliers, most-important contributors, and exceptions.
Map visualizations are integrated with Bing Maps to provide default map coordinates (a process called geo-coding) to create maps. Together they use algorithms to identify the correct location, but sometimes it's a best guess.
- Used to associate both categorical and quantitative information with spatial locations.
- Filled maps require a field in the Location bucket; even if latitude and longitude are provided. Whatever data is in the Location, Latitude, or Longitude buckets is sent to Bing.
Funnels help visualize a process that has stages and items flow sequentially from one stage to the next. Use a funnel when there is a sequential flow between stages, such as a sales process that starts with leads and ends with purchase fulfillment.
Funnel charts are a great choice in these situations.
- When the data is sequential and moves through at least 4 stages.
- When the number of "items" in the first stage is expected to be greater than the number in the final stage.
- To calculate potential (revenue/sales/deals/etc.) by stages.
- To calculate and track conversion and retention rates.
- To reveal bottlenecks in a linear process.
- To track a shopping cart workflow.
- To track the progress and success of click-through advertising/marketing campaigns.
Displays current status in the context of a goal.
A Radial gauge chart has a circular arc and displays a single value that measures progress toward a goal/KPI. The goal, or target value, is represented by the line (needle). Progress toward that goal is represented by the shading. And the value that represents that progress is shown in bold inside the arc. All possible values are spread evenly along the arc, from the minimum (left-most value) to the maximum (right-most value).
Radial gauges are a great choice to achieve the following things.
- Show progress toward a goal.
- Represent a percentile measure, like a KPI.
- Show the health of a single measure.
- Display information that can be quickly scanned and understood.
Sometimes a single number is the most important thing you want to track in your report, such as Answer rate, Adherence, Change year over year, and Total calls.
You can use it to display the default time zone.
Card charts are a great choice when you want to highlight a very important value.
Use this when you want to display and highlight more than one important value.
A Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is a visual cue that communicates the amount of progress made toward a measurable goal.
It is based on a specific measure and is designed to help you evaluate the current value and status of a metric against a defined target. Therefore, a KPI visual requires a base measure that evaluates to a value and a target measure or value, and a threshold or goal.
KPIs are a great choice in the following situations.
- To measure progress—what am I ahead or behind on?
- To measure distance to a goal—how far ahead or behind am I?
Tips! Optionally, format the KPI by selecting the paint roller icon to open the Formatting pane.
- Indicator—controls the indicator’s display units and decimal places.
- Trend axis—when set to On, the trend axis is displayed as the background of the KPI visual.
- Goals—when set to On, the visual displays the goal and the distance from the goal as a percentage.
Color coding > Direction. Some KPIs are considered better for higher values and some are considered better for lower values. For example, earnings versus wait time. Typically, a higher value of earnings is better versus a higher value of wait time. Select high is better and, optionally, change the color settings.
A slicer is an alternative way of filtering that narrows the portion of the dataset shown in the other visualizations in a report.
If you want your report readers to look at overall metrics, but also highlight performance for individual and different time frames, you could use slicers.
There are some imitations with slicers.
- Slicers do not support input fields.
- Slicers cannot be pinned to a dashboard.
- Drill-down is not supported for slicers.
- Slicers do not support visual level filters.
NOTE Numeric and date and time data types produce range slider slicers by default
Slicers are a great choice to achieve this.
- Display commonly-used or important filters on the report canvas for easier access.
- Make it easier to see the current filtered state without having to open a drop-down list.
- Filter by columns that are unneeded and hidden in the data tables.
- Create more focused reports by putting slicers next to important visuals.
Tips! Although the Month data field produces a Between range slider slicer type by default, you can change it to other slicer types and selection options. To change the slicer type, with the slicer selected, hover over the upper-right area of the slicer, drop down the carat that appears, and choose one of the other options, such as List or Before. Note how the slicer appearance and selection options change.
Table & matrix
A table is a grid that contains related data in a logical series of rows and columns. It can contain headers and a row for totals. Tables work well with quantitative comparisons where you are looking at many values for a single category.
If a table has too many values, consider converting it to a matrix or using drill-down. The maximum data points a table can display is 3,500.
Tables are a great choice in these situations.
- To see and compare detailed data and exact values (instead of visual representations)
- To display data in a tabular format
- To display numerical data by categories
With the matrix visual, you can do all sorts of interesting drill-down activities. This includes the ability to drill down using rows, columns, and even into individual sections and cells.
When looking at total and subtotals, remember that those values are based on the underlying data, and not solely based on the visible values. It is not just a simple addition of the values in the visible or displayed rows. This means you can end up with different values in the total row than you might expect.
NOTE The Drill down and Drill up icons in the upper-left of the matrix visual only apply to rows. In order to drill down on columns, you must use the right-click menu.
Matrix is a great choice in these situations.
- To see and compare detailed data and exact values (instead of visual representations).
- To display data in a tabular format.
- To display numerical data by categories.