Charts and graphs are both means of visual representation.

Someone inputs data into a graph or a chart, which then makes it more visible on a smaller scale. This data can be any amount of numbers, profits, progress — and graphs or charts can compare any number of things.

Charts and graphs are perfect for displaying numbers to investors, businesses, coworkers, and other work-related scenarios. But they can also be used anytime data is needing to be represented. 

So, what’s the difference between a chart and a graph? Is there a difference? And which should you use, when?

It’s not as complicated as you think. We explain below.

Same but Different

Let’s offer a comparison first.

Have you ever heard of the plants, succulents? And of course, you’ve heard of cactus.

What do plants have to do with it? Well, all cactus are succulents — but not all succulents are cactus. Succulents can be a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, while not being a cactus at all.

Graphs and charts are like that.

Graphs are always charts, but not all charts are graphs.

So, then, the question remains: what’s a chart?

What Are Charts?

Charts can be displayed in a variety of ways — pie charts, line graphs, bar charts, scatter plots, dual charts, dot plots, histograms, and many more.

When it comes to plugging in and analyzing data, charts are the most accessible way to do this. They can take tons of data and boil it down to easy-to-comprehend, easy-to-visualize means. Charts are essential to business plans, reviews, data collection, surveys, comparing data, and a plethora of other things.

The hardest part about using charts is knowing which to choose. 

Some questions to ask before choosing a style of chart include:

  1. What metrics are you plotting? How many metrics?
  2. Who’s your audience, if applicable?
  3. What conclusion are you trying to draw?

Answering these questions should help you determine how you want to frame your data.

Creating a Chart

Now that you know what a chart is, here’s how to create one.

First, input all your data.

Based on the questions you answered above, choose a chart design. Then select what information you’d like to highlight and enhance it. Play with different colors, sizes, and layouts to see how your data looks in various designs. 

If the thought of collecting, implementing, and reviewing all this data sounds overwhelming or time-consuming, consider using a free graph maker.

These make the process exponentially more manageable, allowing you to toggle between layouts quickly and easily, choose between a variety of styles (donut, pie, line graph), and highlight individual data items.

The Difference Between a Chart and a Graph: Uncharted Territory Made Simple

As you can see, it’s pretty straightforward.

A graph is a chart — but a chart is not always a graph. In some cases, though, it can be.

Use charts to represent a variety of visual data. Use it to make your presentation more professional, to display complex, expansive information, and to boil things down to the basics.

We hope this summed up the difference between a chart and a graph for you. For any more information like this, keep scrolling our page!