Data Storytelling: Displaying Categorical-Categorical Data

Being able to visualize data effectively is crucial to make informed decisions and to tell compelling data stories. Here are a few types of charts that work particularly well for categorical data – grouped, stacked, and multi-series charts.

  1. Grouped Bar Charts are an excellent choice for displaying categorical data when you want to compare multiple series or categories. This type of chart takes individual bars representing different categories and groups them together based on a common variable.

When looking to understand the preferences of three movie genres–action, comedy, and drama–among males and females, a grouped bar chart can display the number of males and females who prefer each genre in separate bars, side by side. This visual helps your audience understand the preferences of both genders for each movie genre easily and quickly. 

Categorical-Categorical Data

  1. Stacked Bar Charts are another powerful way to display categorical-categorical data. They involve taking individual bars, each representing a category, and stacking them on top of one another. This type of chart is useful when you want to emphasize the part-to-whole relationship within each category.

A stacked bar chart can support visualizing the sales data of a clothing store, where you have different clothing items (shirts, pants, and shoes) and different locations (stores A, B, and C). It can display the total sales for each store, while the different clothing items are represented by different colors or patterns within each bar. This way, your audience can see the total sales per store and get a sense of the sales distribution among different clothing items. 

Categorical-Categorical Data 

  1. Multi-Series Charts show the relationship between two or more categories, often using a combination of chart types to display different variables or data elements. They are especially useful when you want to compare trends or patterns across categories over time.

When looking to analyze the changes in the market share of different smartphone brands over the past five years, a multi-series line chart can display the market share of each brand by year. Each line represents a smartphone brand, and the points on the line correspond to market share in a given year. This visual allows your audience to compare the performance of various brands over time and identify trends or patterns.

Categorical-Categorical Data


While grouped, stacked, and multi-series charts are all valuable tools for displaying categorical-categorical data, understanding the differences in their appearances and purposes helps ensure you convey a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the data to your audience.

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