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Data Visualization: Quantitative vs. Qualitative

Quantitative Data

Quantitative data is information about quantities; that is, information that can be measured and written down with numbers. Some other aspects to consider about quantitative data:

  • Focuses on numbers
  • Can be displayed through graphs, charts, tables, and maps
  • Data can be displayed over time (such as a line chart)

Examples of Quantitative Data Visualizations

Bar Graph

A diagram in which the numerical values of variables are represented by the height or length of lines or rectangles of equal width.




A diagram consisting of rectangles whose area is proportional to the frequency of a variable and whose width is equal to the class interval.



Pie Chart

A type of graph in which a circle is divided into sectors that each represent a proportion of the whole.

Scatter Plot

A scatter plot is a graph in which the values of two variables are plotted along two axes, the pattern of the resulting points revealing any correlation present.

Temperature and number of ice cream customers

Qualitative Data

Qualitative data is information about qualities; information that can't actually be measured.  Some other aspects to consider about qualitative data:

  • Represented through pictures that explore the data in a visual way
  • Visual representations focus on the themes found in the data
  • Can tell a story
  • Can also be displayed graphically as a pie chart or bar graph, the same as quantitative data, however, this can be tricky and can be done incorrectly easily

Examples of Qualitative Data Visualizations

Word Clouds

A word cloud is an image composed of words used in a particular text or subject, in which the size of each word indicates its frequency or importance.

Example Word Cloud from Pixabay


Graphic Timelines

A timeline is a type of chart which visually shows a series of events in chronological order over a linear timescale. The power of a timeline is that it is graphical, which makes it easy to understand critical milestones, such as the progress of a project schedule.


The Art of Timelines for Learning Infographic example