A range plot is based on two data points for each category and a bar or a line in between two data points which presents the difference between those values. Sometimes color and icons can be used to indicate the direction of such change (or a movement of the values).
A range plot is the easiest and most convenient way of presenting the minimum and maximum value of the category and the space between. Its simplicity makes it easy to understand and useful for presenting data to a wide audience.
Range plots are mostly used to depict gaps between paired values (demographic gap, gender pay gap) or simply the difference between the smallest and the biggest values from a set of multiple values.
A waterfall chart shows positive and negative values of change between two points, which helps in understanding the cumulative effect of these changes as well as unfolds the details. It is used to visualize accounting data for a single time period, but can also be used to show changes over time.
This chart visualizes the start and end time in form of period blocks. It is a graph that typically shows activities or tasks performed against time: a project plan over time. Used in project management, it helps in tracking project progress, schedule, and changes. It can be also used to illustrate seasonal occurrences, such as the availability of different fruits and vegetables throughout the year.
Sometimes the range of values should be shown using not only min and max values but also median, 25th percentile, and 75th percentile. In this case, a box chart is a perfect option. It’s often used in statistical analysis and scientific papers, that’s why it’s well known and recognizable by the community.
Just like a range plot, a slope chart needs two points, but they are shown in a slightly different way. One line is used for placing start-points and the other is for the end-point. The angle corresponds to the degree of change. Space-wise it’s an economical chart, but the crossings of lines can cause confusion if too many lines are used.
In most cases, start- and end-point values are essential for the range plot because they are the focal points of the chart, so they should be accompanied as labels. The exception is when the number of ranges is extensive and ranges are treated as a representation of trends. In this case, axes’ labels and gridlines will be a better choice.
Sorting can be a useful tool for presenting disordered data. You can sort the categories in the data. Either based on the highest value, the lowest value, or the range length. Using ascending or descending sorting puts the range in order and helps the user to read the chart. It also reduces the time needed to compare the differences between different ranges.