 # Dot plot

## What is a dot plot?

A dot plot shows one or more quantitative values per category by plotting one or more dots per category on a numerical (or date-time) axis. A dot plot with only one value per category makes a comparison between those categories very easy. When the dot plot has multiple values per category, you can also compare within the categories. This results in a chart type that packs a lot of information in a small space.

Since the dots communicate information via their position on the axis, and relatively via their position towards each other, the start- and end-point of the axis should be based on the minimum and maximum values in the data. There is no need to start the axis at zero.

By adding a connector between the dots, you can add an extra dimension to an already information-dense chart: The connector adds a focus on the delta between two values or the range between a minimum and maximum value.

## Variations of dot plots

##### The charts below are variations of a dot plot. To learn how to make them with Datylon, check out the dot plot user documentation in the Datylon Help Center.  #### Categorical scatter plot

A categorical scatter plot is very similar to a dot plot. The only difference can lie in the way the data is handled: in a categorical scatterplot, the data is mostly provided in a flat table, in a dot plot, the data is already pivoted and split into series.  #### Lollipop

A lollipop chart is like a marriage between a bar chart and a dot plot. It’s closely related to a bar chart since the stick needs to start at zero and the dot is added on top. A lollipop chart is often used to avoid a moiré effect when there are a lot of categories visualized.  #### Dumbbell

A dumbbell is a dot plot with two connected values per category. Use it when you want to emphasize the delta between the two values. Replacing dots with arrowheads will turn it into an arrow chart. Not adding marks and only leaving the connector makes it a range chart.  #### Beeswarm

A beeswarm chart is like a dot plot with “a lot” of values per category. These values are each represented by one dot, and the swarm of dots represents the distribution found in the data. Instead of packing them in bins, the dots are scattered around each other.

## Alternatives to a dot plot

##### Substitute your dot plot with any of the charts below when you want a visual alternative that still allows you to compare values within and between categories.  #### (Multi-series) Bar or column chart

This is probably the most simple alternative to a dot plot. Bar charts represent values with bar length rather than relative position on a numerical axis. To replace multi-series dot plots, one can choose either a stacked or grouped bar chart, facilitating comparisons within and between categories.  #### Slope chart

A slope chart serves as an excellent substitute for a dumbbell chart when you want to highlight the evolution between two specific values. It's particularly effective at conveying the magnitude and direction of the difference between these two data points. Instead of relying on dots, it uses the angle of the slope itself to express this change.  #### Range plot

A range chart can be used as an alternative to a two- or multi-series dot plot if it is more important to focus on the delta between two points or the range between the minimum and maximum value of multiple points. This type of chart is easy to understand and useful for presenting data to a wide audience due to its simplicity.

## Pro tips for designing a dot plot

##### Learn how to improve the readability and visual appeal of your dot plot. Gridlines are what turns a set of barbells into an actual chart with a proper context. ### Coloring options

A dot plot can be a pretty simple chart. Its minimum pack is categorical and numerical dimensions and a fixed size mark. Color is the thing that adds the edge to this chart. It might be used to place simple accents, but it can also add a new dimension: numerical, categorical, or even time. ### Sorting

Sort the categories in the data. Either based on the highest value, the lowest value, or the delta. ### Combine with other charts

Combining a dot plot with another chart is a perfect choice for showing more context which may otherwise not be apparent. Using data labels instead of numerical axis makes the chart cleaner and gives full information about dot values.