Skills Earth Sciences

What graph do I need?

The table below gives an overview of the purpose and variables used in the graphs covered in this module.

Graph typePurposeVariables
Scatter plot• Visualising and studying relationships between variables
• Assessing correlations between variables
• Study data distribution
• X-axis: dependent or independent, continuous
• Y-axis: dependent, quantitative (most suitable for continuous, less for discrete)
Line graph• Identifying trends over time or space
• Comparing multiple dependent variables of one common independent variable
• X-axis: independent, continuous with a consecutive order
• Y-axis: dependent, continuous
Bar graph• Comparing categories
• Displaying proportions
• X-axis: independent, categorical (often nominal)
• Y-axis: dependent, quantitative (generally discrete)