Best Chart to Show Trends Over Time

Best Chart to Show Trends Over Time

Visual representation of data plays a crucial role in conveying information effectively and facilitating a deeper understanding of complex trends and patterns. When it comes to showcasing trends over time, selecting the appropriate chart or graph is essential to accurately and comprehensively present the data.

Hope you are ready to explore and analyze some of the best chart types available for showcasing trends over time, along with their strengths, weaknesses, and suitable use cases.

Quick Answer 
The best chart to show trends over time includes a Line chart, Area chart, Bar chart, Column chart, and Scatter plot. The choice of the best chart depends on factors such as the nature of the data, the objectives of the analysis, and the audience’s needs. Tips on effectively presenting trend data, including using appropriate color schemes, starting the baseline at zero, organizing bars in sequential order, and labeling the bars based on the amount of change they represent are also provided.

Best Chart to Show Trends over Time

Chart to Show Trends

1. Line Chart

The line chart is one of the most commonly used and versatile chart types for representing trends over time. It is especially effective for displaying continuous data points and demonstrating how a variable changes over a specific period.

Line charts are excellent for illustrating long-term trends, identifying patterns, and tracking progress. They are particularly useful for visualizing stock market fluctuations, temperature changes, population growth, and other time-series data.


1. Clear visualization of trends and patterns over time.

2. Suitable for showcasing continuous data sets.

3. Easy to read and interpret, even for non-technical audiences.

4. Can depict multiple data series on the same chart for effective comparisons.


1. Not ideal for displaying individual data points or precise values.

2. Limited in representing categorical or non-numeric data.

3. May become cluttered and confusing when too many data series are plotted on the same chart.

2. Area Chart

Similar to line charts, area charts are effective in illustrating trends over time but with the added advantage of visualizing the magnitude of change. The area between the line and the x-axis is filled, creating a solid color area that emphasizes the overall change.

Area charts are ideal for demonstrating cumulative data, market share, and stacking multiple variables over time.


1. Highlights the magnitude of change effectively.

2. Enables comparison of multiple data series.

3. Suitable for demonstrating cumulative or proportional data.

4. Can effectively showcase market share or stacked data.


1. May make it difficult to interpret individual data points.

2. Less effective when comparing multiple non-related data series.

3. Not suitable for precise value representation.

3. Bar Chart

Bar charts, particularly horizontal ones, are widely used to compare and display categorical data over time. While they are not as commonly associated with time-series data, bar charts can still be effective in showcasing trends when the x-axis represents discrete time periods.

Bar charts are valuable for demonstrating changes in different categories over time, making them useful for analyzing sales figures, survey responses, and other categorical data.


1. Easy comparison between different categories over time.

2. Suitable for showcasing discrete time periods.

3. Effective for comparing data across categories.

4. Allows for the representation of both positive and negative values.


1. May not be suitable for continuous time periods.

2. Not the best choice for displaying trends within categories.

3. Can become cluttered when dealing with a large number of categories.

4. Column Chart

Column charts are very similar to bar charts, with the distinction lying in the orientation of the bars. These charts are typically used when the x-axis represents time periods and the y-axis represents the values to be compared.

This type of chart is well-suited for showcasing trends in a straightforward and easily interpretable manner.


1. Effective in displaying trends over time.

2. Suitable for comparing data across different categories.

3. Easy to read and interpret.

4. Allows for the representation of both positive and negative values.


1. Limited in displaying continuous time periods.

2. Less effective for showing trends within categories.

3. May become cluttered when dealing with numerous categories.

5. Scatter Plot

While scatter plots are commonly used for visualizing relationships between two variables, they can also be useful for showcasing trends over time when each data point represents a specific time period.

Scatter plots are especially valuable for identifying patterns, outliers, and correlations within time-series data.


1. Provides a visual representation of the relationship between two variables over time.

2. Enables the identification of patterns, clusters, and outliers.

3. Can reveal correlations or trends that may not be apparent in other chart types.

4. Suitable for displaying both continuous and categorical data.


1. Requires a large dataset to identify meaningful trends.

2. Not as effective in showcasing precise values or specific time periods.

3. May become cluttered and difficult to interpret when dealing with a large number of data points.

Selecting the most suitable chart type to showcase trends over time depends on various factors, including the nature of the data, the objective of the analysis, and the audience’s needs. Line charts and area charts are excellent choices for illustrating continuous data and long-term trends.

Bar charts and column charts are well-suited for comparing data across categories, while scatter plots can reveal relationships and patterns within time-series data.

Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each chart type allows for informed decision-making in visualizing trends over time, ultimately leading to enhanced data comprehension and insightful analysis.


How to Create the Best Charts to Show Trends/Changes Over Time: Step-by-Step Guide with Examples

A line chart is the best option for the example and that’s what we’ll use. Why? It is the finest graph for displaying patterns over time. Based on our discussions, we discovered that a line chart is the best for displaying patterns over time. Our sample looks at various furniture sales from January through December.

The table below shows the sales of various furniture assets.


Begin by installing ChartExpo as a Google Sheets add-on by following this link.

  • Use ChartExpo as follows after installation: Extensions > Charts, Graphs, and Visualizations by ChartExpo > Open.
  • To access your fully filled chart library, click the Add New Chart button.
  • ChartExpo will display a list of charts once it has been loaded. Then, go through the various chart templates until you find the Dual Axis Line Chart.
  • Select the sheet containing the data and then select the Metrics option. Fill in the numbers (in our example, we’ll fill in Profits, Sales, and Orders).
  • Select the Dimensions button and enter the dimensional data (in our case, Months).
  • Next, click the Create Chart button.
  • You now have a chart of trends over time.

How Do You Find the Best Chart to Show Trends Over Time

Best Chart to Show Trends

Know Your Audience

It is critical to define your audience in order for your data presentation to be effective. With this in mind, you’ll know what kind of data visualization to show them.

Because your audience is made up of exceptional execution marketers, presenting charts and graphs becomes easy.

You must not offer a chart that your audience does not understand. Tracking trends over time gets confusing. As a result, you’ll need to employ one of the greatest graphs to demonstrate patterns.

When working with a general audience, you must therefore give a plain visualization. You will require the greatest chart to show the change over time. These are some of the charts:

  • Pie Charts
  • Bar Charts
  • Dual-Axis Grouped Bar Charts
  • Single-Row Stack Chart
  • Column Charts

These charts are straightforward and suitable for a broad audience. On the other side, for an experienced audience, you can use these charts:

  • Sankey Chart
  • Components Trend Chart
  • Stacked Area Graph
  • Map And Bar Chart
  • Dual-Axis Radar Chart

Use of Visualization Colors

Data visualization requires your ability to use colors effectively. If you are a marketer, you understand how important colors are in establishing your brand. Because of the colors you associate with, it is simple for the general public and your clients to distinguish your brand. With the data, your audience will recognize you as your brand.

Keep your color schemes in mind while visualizing your data for your audience. The color palette for the graphs and charts in your presentation must be effective. This method might assist your audience in identifying various trends throughout time. Why? It’s because you used other variables to disperse your trademark colors. Choose colors intelligently while constructing the finest chart to demonstrate patterns over time.

Effective Ways of Showing Change over Time Data

The Baseline Should Be Zero

When creating your best chart showing change over time, make zero the starting point at the baseline. This method will assist your readers notice differences in bar lengths. A zero baseline will allow your audience to compare different bar lengths. They will conclude that the data you offer is credible if they can see the shift over time.

If your chart has a scale gap, this can provide a problem. Your audience won’t be able to tell which point is the starting point, which will lead to misrepresentation. Why? Your bar lengths and real values do not match. As a result, your audience will form incorrect judgments about your presentation.

Use a Sequential Order for Category Levels

When presenting data with a time trend, you have to show your audience that change is progressive. When charting your data, you must decide on the order in which your bars will appear. In most circumstances, data analysts will use the longest bars at the beginning and the shortest bars as they reach the end.

However, regardless of the sequence, your viewers can compare the bar lengths. It may take some time for your audience to track improvements over time. That is why you must organize your bars so that your audience’s eyes do not travel back and forth while following trends over time.

Use Colors Effectively

It is critical to use color effectively while creating the best graph to show change over time. Excel and Google Sheets allow you to use different colors in your charts. When you use colors ineffectively, you risk distracting your audience. They may misinterpret the colors you used, making it difficult for you to explain your ideas.

It is critical that you use colors correctly to avoid such situations. Use a different hue than your default color when you want your audience to focus on a specific timeframe in your business.

Simplifying the Arrangement of Bars in Charts

Your goal is to make your data presentation as simple as possible. This method aids your audience in comprehending your insights. The arrangement of your bars in your charts is critical to make your presentation straightforward. 

Your bars will appear in ascending or descending order of data values only in natural order, such as age and time. It is also critical to avoid ordering your bars in alphabetical order.

Labeling Your Bars Based on the Amount of Change They Represent

Avoid using too many labels on your best chart for showing patterns over time. It will make it difficult for your viewers to follow. You must remove those aspects that are unrelated to the ideas you wish to share. It would be helpful if you labeled each bar in your chart with its meaning. This method will make it simple for your audience to notice trends over time. Your visualization will be visually clean and appealing to your audience.

Spacing within Visualization

In order to show trends, your best charts must have an appropriate chart size. Each of your bars should have the same width. Maintain an even spacing between your bars as well. Your audience will be able to simply track changes in your topic of interest over time.

Frequently Asked Question

When should I use a Line Chart to Show trends over time?

Line charts are ideal when you want to showcase continuous data and illustrate long-term trends or patterns. They are commonly used for displaying stock market fluctuations, temperature changes, population growth, and other time-series data.

Can I use a bar chart to show trends over time?

Bar charts are primarily used to compare categorical data, making them less suitable for showing trends over time. However, if the x-axis represents discrete time periods and the bars represent different categories, a bar chart can be used to display trends within each category.

What are the advantages of using an area chart to show trends over time?

A: Area charts, similar to line charts, are effective in showcasing trends over time. They provide an additional advantage of visualizing the magnitude of change by filling the area between the line and the x-axis. This makes them particularly useful for demonstrating cumulative data, market share, and stacked variables.

When should I use a Scatter Plot to show trends over time?

Scatter plots are more commonly used to visualize the relationship between two variables, rather than specifically showing trends over time. However, if each data point represents a specific time period, scatter plots can still provide insights into patterns and correlations within time-series data.

Can I use a Pie Chart to show trends over time?

Pie charts are not suitable for showing trends over time as they are primarily used to represent the composition or proportions of different categories within a single time period. They are not effective in illustrating changes or patterns over time.


In a nutshell, we discovered that interpreting raw data is difficult. Because it lacks structure, it is impossible to establish trends over time. However, we’ve seen the value of employing line graphs to show changes over time. In your line graphs, straight lines connect the data points. These lines can help you track the rise and fall of sales over time.

As a business owner, you must use line charts to track your company’s patterns over time. A line chart can be used to forecast the future of your business. However, in order for a data set comparison to be relevant, both axes must have the same scale.

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