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How Do I Create Data Visualizations?

What is Data Visualization

Data visualization is an emergent interdisciplinary field that approaches the portrayal, analysis, and communication of abstract information graphically.  The onslaught of data has created a paradigm shift in how we interact with data.

Intersections of Visualization:  Below is a running list of categories that all fall under the shadow of Data Visualization. 

Research Visualizations

  • Visual analytics:  Using visualization tools to find insights in a data set
  • Scientific visualization:  Sharing found insights through statistical or visual analysis


  • Data visualizations created with some data to tell a story. These are usually published online for public use.

Business Intelligence

  • Data visualizations that are presented as a group for assessment or data driven decision making by any institution or department

Geographic Information Systems

  • A geographic information system (GIS) integrates hardware, software, and data for capturing, managing, analyzing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information.

Why Visualize Data

Anscombe's Quartet is a series of 4 tables that appear statistically similar however once graphed the differences between these four tables becomes obvious.  Data Visualization can be used to find new insights in your research data.