Basic Area Chart Knowledge

An area chart is a line chart with the areas below the lines filled with colors. It emphasizes the magnitude of change over time.

Area charts can be used to draw attention to the total value across a trend. For example, data that represents profit over time can be plotted in an area chart to emphasize the total profit. This colorful and visual display distinguishes the data more clearly.

Video Tutorial - Create an Area Chart

The Definition of Area Chart

Area chart is a type of presentation graphic that emphasizes a change in values by filling in the portion of the graph beneath the line connecting various data points. Area chart is commonly used for showing trends over time among related attributes. It is better to use the area chart when there is a summation relationship between the data sets or when you want to show part-to-whole relationship along with trend.

Step Area Chart

When to Use Line vs Area Charts

Line charts and area charts are very closely related. They are both good for time series data. They both show continuity across a dataset. They are both good for seeing trends rather than individual values, however, they can't always be used interchangeably, as they do have a few subtle - but important - differences.

Line Chart vs Area Chart

Line charts are good at showing multiple different series and comparing them against each other. They can support up to about seven lines in a static version; interactive versions can go higher. Area charts are not as good at comparing between that many areas because they have problems with occlusion. One way to solve this occlusion problem is with transparency of the areas. Transparency works well with two or three different areas, but if used with too many areas, it turns into a muddy mess.

In short, while line charts and area charts may seem interchangeable, they have different qualities. Using the correct one is a subtle move, but it can make a big difference in the professionalism of your visualizations. Use line charts to compare several data series, or for individual intangible values like rates. Use area charts for multiple data series with part to whole relationships, or for individual series representing a physically countable set, or cumulative series of values.

Steps to Draw an Area Chart

Although it is quite convenient to use area chart to visually display the data, drawing an area chart by hand is a little bit difficult. No worries, it is an easy job to draw an area chart with the help of area chart maker. Now let me show you how to draw an area chart step by step.

First things first, select the area chart shape you like from the library which is on the left of the canvas.

Select Area Chart Shape

Drag and drop the area chart shape you have chosen on the drawing page. On the upper right of the area chart shape you may find a floating button like the picture below shows.

Area Chart Floating Button

You may find the first option is "Load Data from File", and the default format of the data file is text (.txt) file. Tips: Edraw also supports csv file, text and csv file exported by Excel. If you installed Office Excel, Edraw can load xls and xlsx file. The arrangement of the data should be like what the picture below shows.

The Data Arrangement of the Area Chart

Also, you may add or delete a category, set category number, series number, set max value, etc. One thing you need pay attention to is that when you want to change the series color, you need to select the series like the picture below shows, and then choose your favorite color from the quick color bar on the bottom of the drawing page.

Change Series Color of the Area Chart

You may customize other features of the area chart to make it look more attractive.

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