Skills Earth Sciences

Figure types

Learning outcomes

At the end of this chapter you:

  • Can identify the main figure types in Earth Sciences
  • Know what specific type of figure you need to visualise your data and what you need to incorporate into those figures
  • Know how to correctly and accurately visualise your data


Due to the broad nature of the Earth science program and the variety of research disciplines and data types, you will encounter many types of figures during your studies. This chapter aims to describe the main figure types found in Earth sciences, what to use them for and when, and provides tips on designing specific figures.

It does not contain tutorials on how to create the specific figures using specific software. There are many options for software to create graphs in and the exact method varies between different applications. If you’d like to learn more about which software to choose, take a look at Tools for creating figures. Here, you will find an overview of the different types of programs used to create graphs. To learn how to use these programs to create graphs we recommend looking our other recourse modules such as Excel basics or find how-to guides online.