Bubble Chart | Resource Page | Datylon

Bubble chart


What is a 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.

Researchers and analysts often use bubble charts due to their flexibility in representing multiple variables, with some expansions allowing for up to seven variables at once. However, it's important to avoid overloading viewers with too many variables, as this can make it challenging to interpret the chart.

A bubble chart is commonly used to identify correlations between variables and can also help identify clusters and outliers. It has one of the best data-to-space ratios of any chart type.

Due to its versatility, a bubble chart can be adapted into various other chart types, such as heatmaps, dot plots, icon charts, tilemaps, and hybrid charts. This adaptability makes bubble charts a popular choice among infographic designers and data visualization specialists.

Variations of bubble charts

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 our Help Center.
Bubble chart variation - scatter plot

Scatter plot

It's typically the first choice for data exploration. Simple one-sized data marks give a clear view of every observation’s positioning in a two-variable plane. It reveals patterns and relationships between numeric variables.

Bubble chart variation - categorical scatter plot

Categorical scatter plot

A categorical scatter plot is a variation of a regular scatter plot that incorporates a categorical axis, which can be present on one or both of the axes. Visually, the categorical scatter plot shares strong similarities with dot plots.

Bubble chart variation - quadrant chart

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


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

Dot plot

A dot plot can substitute a bubble chart when you need to see a range of values for every category – connectors will help with that. It visualizes multiple numerical values per category in a space-efficient way.

Bubble chart alternative - icon chart

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


The bubble chart is a versatile chart that allows for up to seven variables to be bound. These include the X- and Y-axes, size, color, stroke color, icon, and label. It’s a record among Datylon charts. However, it's essential to exercise caution when binding too many variables as this can quickly overwhelm the reader. To ensure optimal readability, it's recommended to limit the number of bound variables to three or four.

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Pro tips for designing a bubble chart - 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


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

The beauty of a bubble chart lies in the ability to customize each bubble individually, allowing for an unparalleled level of control over the appearance and emphasis of the data. With a multitude of styling options available, the possibilities for highlighting specific bubbles are truly endless. Whether it's through color, size, or shape, the ability to fine-tune the visual representation of each bubble opens up a world of creative potential for data visualization.

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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


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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Create your own bubble chart

Join Datylon for free and get started online or download our Datylon for Illustrator plug-in with a 14-day trial. Connect with a Datylon expert for a 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.

Discover more charts in our Chart Library

Datylon for Illustrator gives you full creative control with a myriad of styling options for charts, including styling based on data and reusable chart templates.