Wikipedia:Graphs and charts

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A graph or chart or diagram is a diagrammatical illustration of a set of data. If the graph is uploaded as an image file, it can be placed within articles just like any other image.

Graphs must be accurate and convey information efficiently. They should be viewable at different computer screen resolutions. Ideally, graphs will also be aesthetically pleasing.

Please note that "graph", "chart" and "diagram" are ambiguous terms, sometimes used interchangeably.


Graphs that show a trend of data should illustrate the trend accurately in its context, rather than illustrating the trend in an exaggerated or sensationalized way. In short, don't draw misleading graphs.

Choose a type of graph that is appropriate for the data you are illustrating.

  • Cartesian coordinates
  • Pie chart — good for showing how a whole is divided up (e.g., how much money is spent on each thing in a budget)
  • Bar graph — good for showing how things compare to each other (e.g., whether foo or bar is bigger) or how it has changed (e.g., sales of foo each year)

Creating graphs for Wikipedia


A graph-making tool called Vega was introduced in May 2015. You can use it to make charts and maps. If you have an old browser, you will see images instead. You can learn how to use it and write help pages for your wiki. You can use the Vega edit tool to make charts and copy the code to your wiki. Charts and maps use complex code, and you should put them into templates.

Methods using Wikipedia templates


A variety of templates and styles are available to create timelines.

  • The {{Graphical timeline}} template allows representations of extensive timelines. The template offers complex formatting and labeling options to control the output. Typically, each use is made into its own template, and the template is then transcluded into the article. See an example here, and an example of it being used in an article here.
  • The {{Timeline}} template is designed to show three items in a simple timeline, representing past, present, and future. It is convenient for navigation through a series of articles, e.g., the succession of people holding an elected office. It looks like this:

Foo 2009 Bar
Baz 2011

  • The use of fixed images, such as File:Narnia Timeline.svg, was common in the past. However, these are difficult or impossible to adjust later, so this approach is frequently not the best option.
  • In other cases, whole articles or sections present timelines in text as association (definition) lists. Timeline of chemistry is a featured list that uses this style to good effect.

Single statistic

70 / 100
70% of women with breast cancer have no known risk factors

{{Composition bar}} can be used to provide a single statistic.

This example shows 70% (70 out of 100), but the template is flexible and can show any positive integer out of any (equal or larger) integer. The template is 100 pixels wide, so the results are rounded to 1%.

The code for producing this, set in a one-column, two-row table with a caption in the second row, is shown here:

{| class="infobox" style="width: 10em;"
| {{Composition bar|70|100|hex=pink}}
| class="thumbcaption" | 70% of women with breast cancer have no known risk factors

To use this, copy the above and replace the values ("70" and "100" in the middle line) and the caption ("70% of women...") with your data. The color can also be changed, from "red" in this example to "blue", "green", or any hex color.

If you want to present multiple statistics, you can stack multiple copies of the template inside the first cell of the table.

Pie chart

  One (27%)
  Two (32%)
  Three (12%)
  Four (9%)
  Other (20%)

{{Pie chart}} is an experimental graph-drawing template that produces a pie chart 200 pixels wide in the article.

Setting the other parameter to yes will pad the chart so that the values total to 100.

This example was created by typing the following code:

{{Pie chart
|other = yes
|value1 = 27
|label1 = One
|value2 = 32
|label2 = Two
|value3 = 12
|label3 = Three
|value4 = 9
|label4 = Four}}

Up to nine wedges can be included.

Horizontal bar graph

Bar chart

{{Bar chart}} is a template that displays the data as a horizontal bar chart. The width of the graph can be changed.

Women's life expectancy at birth
Country Predicted median age at death
Bar box

{{Bar box}} is a template that displays the data as a horizontal bar chart. The width of the chart can be changed, but care must be taken to make sure the bars stay within the box on many browsers.

Quantity of stuff
kinds of stuff pcs.
Some stuff displayed by quantity.
Stacked bar

{{Stacked bar}} is a template that displays a set of data as a single bar of a stacked bar chart. The template supports up to 12 segments in their proportional lengths compared to a total, along with captions for each section. Care must be taken that the captions do not overlap excessively in smaller resolutions, and in many cases you may not be able to include captions if the segment(s) is too small.

Number of video game articles in the 1970s and earlier by year

Vertical bar graph

Module:Chart is a Lua module that may be used to create several different types of vertical bar graphs.

A standard vertical bar graph

Post mortem
  •   Apple
  •   Banana
  •   Orange

A stacked vertical bar graph

Post mortem
  •   Apple
  •   Banana
  •   Orange

Brick chart


Causes of death

  Cancer - 13 %
  Unintentional injuries - 6 %
  Uncertain - 0.2 %
  other - 21.8 %

{{Brick chart}} is a simple block-oriented chart template. It assumes that everything must add up to total=100 (or specify), and fills in any missing amounts with "other".

You can label (and optionally choose colors for) each item, and the labels can be wikilinks to relevant articles. Now, decimal amounts are supported (tiny amounts will appear as slivers).

Line charts

The template {{Line chart}} implements line charts, such as:

Methods outside Wikipedia

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) is the recommended format.
  • Module:Chart creates bar and pie charts on Wikipedia without need for external tools
  • Many spreadsheet, drawing, and desktop publishing programs allow you to create graphs and export them as images.[1][2]
  • gnuplot can produce a wide variety of charts and graphs; see samples with source code at Commons.
  • In Python using matplotlib (examples)
  • The R programming language can be used for creating Wikipedia graphs.
  • Google's chart application programming interface allows a variety of graphs to be created. It can be found here.

See also

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