Comparing Circle Graphs,
Bar Graphs, and Tables


After completing this unit, you should be able to:

Comparing Types of Visual Data Displays

This unit is intended to review and clarify the uses for, and the similarities and differences between, tables, bar graphs, and circle graphs. Often it is difficult to determine the most appropriate way to visually display data. You may wonder whether you should use a table, circle graph or bar graph to display the given data. This section will help you learn how to choose the most appropriate graph, depending on the information you want conveyed.

While each representation has its strong points, each also has limitations. When we are representing data, it is important to determine which form is better. This will depend on what we want readers to be able to see.

Now let's look at an example, to help illustrate this discussion.


Given the following table, draw the appropriate graph for each case, then answer the questions below.

Sneakers Sold This Month
Brand Name Number Sold







Answer to Example

If we want to make a graph that simply shows this data, it really wouldn't matter which type of graph we chose. The choice of graph depends on what we want to emphasize.

RECALL: Circle graphs are best used to compare parts to a whole, while bar graphs are most effective in comparing among groups.

Now try the practice below. This unit includes one practice problem with detailed solutions. It is recommended that you read through this practice carefully, to help strengthen your sense of the distinction between, and the use of, circle and bar graphs.


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