Bubble Chart | Resource Page | Datylon

Bubble chart

A bubble chart is a set of dots plotted between axes representing two variables. A third variable represents the size of the bubble.

A bubble chart is one of the most popular charts among researchers and analysts. It has a lot of flexibility in terms of variable binding. With some expansions, it can represent up to seven variables at once. At the same time, if not carefully designed, reading bubble charts can be challenging. That’s why it’s better not to overload the viewer's attention by plotting too many variables.

A bubble chart is most commonly used to find correlations. Clusters, as well as outliers, are also easy to spot using bubble charts.

It is a chart with one of the best data/space ratios.

A bubble chart is also known for its versatility. It gives a lot of inspiration to infographic designers and data visualization specialists. It can be turned into almost any chart: heatmap, dot plot, icon chart, tilemap or some hybrid chart.

Can you buy happiness for money? | Bubble chart example | Datylon

Variations on a bubble chart

The charts below are variations on a bubble chart. To learn how to make them with Datylon, check out the scatter plot user documentation in the Datylon Help Center.
Bubble chart variation - scatter plot
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Scatter plot

A scatter plot is usually the first one for data exploration. Simple one-sized data marks give a clear view of every observation’s positioning in a two-variable plane. A scatter plot is often used to show relationships between numeric variables and identify patterns.

Bubble chart variation - categorical scatter plot
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Categorical scatter plot

A categorical scatter plot differs from a regular scatter plot by the presence of a categorical axis. It can be just one categorical axis or both of them. It's very similar to a dot plot. Except, in this chart, the data is mostly provided in a flat table.

Bubble chart variation - quadrant chart
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Quadrant chart

This chart is very similar to a scatter plot but it’s divided into four equal parts in a 2x2 matrix. It is useful if we want to group data marks for some specific type of analysis (SWOT analysis being one of the best and most well-known examples).

Alternatives for a bubble chart

Substitute your bubble chart with any of the charts below when you want a visual alternative that still allows you to use color binding or different icons.
Bubble chart alternative - heatmap
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Heatmap

A heatmap is more restricted than a bubble chart as it only uses color, hue, or intensity, as well as labels to visualize the data variances (patterns, trends, correlations). Therefore the data itself is structured as a table.

Bubble chart alternative - dot plot
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Dot plot

A dot plot is a good alternative for a bubble chart in case you need to see a range of values for every category – connectors will help with that. It visualizes (two or more) numerical values per category in a very space-efficient way.

Bubble chart alternative - icon chart
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Icon chart

An icon chart will be a perfect choice if the position of the marks is not data-driven. Values can be bound to the color and size of the icons. Overall, icon charts are great if you want to compare smaller data sets.

Pro tips for designing a bubble chart

Learn how to improve the readability and visual appeal of your chart.
Pro tips for designing a bubble chart - binding

Binding

Up to seven variables can be bound in the bubble chart: X- and Y-axes, size, color, stroke color, icon, and label. It’s a record among Datylon charts. But be careful. Too many bound variables can easily confuse the reader. It’s better to limit the number of bound variables to three or four.

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Pro tips for designing a bubble chart - sorting

Sorting

If an axis type is set to categorical, sorting can be applied: in ascending, descending and reverse order. This can be a huge timesaver if the sorting of categories hasn’t been prepared in the spreadsheet beforehand.

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Pro tips for designing a bubble chart - coloring

Coloring

All the possibilities of coloring are available in the bubble chart. Three types of color scales allow detailed communication of both categorical and numerical data.

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Pro tips for designing a bubble chart - data-point styling

Data-point styling

Every bubble can be styled separately and tuned to the finest detail. This enables endless options to highlight the bubbles.

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Pro tips for designing a bubble chart - labels instead of bubbles

Labels instead of bubbles

Sometimes we don’t even need a bubble. A label on its own can be enough for communicating the message. This is done by hiding the data marks and leaving the labels only. The labels can be colored just like the data marks by using the link option for label color.

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Pro tips for designing a bubble chart - jitter

Jitter

If you use a combination of numerical and categorical axes and the plots on the numerical axis are dense, you might run into overlapping data marks. To avoid that you can use the Jitter property along the categorical axis. It allows you to spread data marks near the category line and make the data marks more visible.

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Are you ready to make your own bubble chart with Datylon? 

Create a Datylon account and get started for free online or download a Datylon for Illustrator plug-in with a 14-day trial. Connect with a Datylon expert for a free demo session. 

Bubble chart inspiration

Scroll and click on the images below to find inspiration samples of bubble charts. With your Datylon account, you can use these designs, customize them and update them with new data.