Visuals Help You Communicate

Pie chart

Pie charts are great for illustrating comparisons between a part and the whole. Segments of the chart represent percentages of the whole.

Pie chart showing different causes of concussion: Struck by object, 22.9%; Struck by person, 11.1%; collision, 17.2%; Fall, 44.5%; Assault, 3.1%; Unknown, 1.2%
“Causes of concussion” by delldot is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Line graph

Line graphs help you emphasize a particular trend over time.

Increase in Textbook Prices line graph
“Increase in Textbook Prices” by David Ernst, Open Textbook Network is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Bar graph

Bar graphs serve basically the same purpose as line graphs, emphasizing trends over a particular period of time.

Bar graph example
“Single Bar Graph” by Lauren Manning is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Table

Tables are a good way to visually organize complex numerical information, especially if you have a lot of data.

Bookstore Weekly Schedule Week of May 1-7

Sun 5/1 Mon 5/2 Tue 5/3 Wed 5/4 Thu 5/5 Fri 5/6 Sat 5/7
Brown, M. 9am-6pm 9am-6pm 9am-1pm
Gordon, A. 11am-8pm 11am-8pm 7am-11am 9am-6pm 9am-6pm
Lawton, N. 11am-8pm 11am-8pm 7am-11am
Shiro, I. 9am-6pm 9am-6pm 9am-1pm
Vasquez, A. 11am-8pm 11am-8pm 7am-11am

Photograph

Photographs depict people, situations, or ideas that might be discussed in your text.

Photo of college students
“College” by univfajar is in the Public Domain, CC0

Diagram

Diagrams are used most often in scientific or technical writing because of their ability to convey complex processes and structures simply.

Tugboat diagram
Tugboat diagram” by Al2 with minor modifications by LycaonOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Flowchart

Flowcharts are great for showing structure as well as steps in a linear process.

Is there a person in the photo? If no, check other elements in the photo. If yes, is your intended use about the person in the photo? If yes, you can use this photo. If no, is your intended use about the event in the photo? If yes, you can use this photo. If no, is there any proof of consent from the person in the photo for your intended use? If yes, you can use this photo. If no, you can not use this photo.
“Flow chart determining reusability of a portrait photo” by Sebastiaan ter Burg is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Map

Maps are the perfect choice for illustrating geographical distances, demographics, or other data that is at least partially dependent on place.

Map highlights present-day states that contain parts of the Oregon Trail, as well as current interstate highways that follow the route.
“Oregon Trail wikivoyage map” by Gorilla Jones is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

License

Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Visuals Help You Communicate by Robin Jeffrey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.