Narrative Elements

Accompanying article: An accompanying article is an article that was written to support a visualization or that has the visualization as supporting information. It is usually presented in a separate page and can be accessed through a link.

Annotations: Annotations are bits of textual information that are presented as a support for the information presented in the visualization. Annotations are a promising way to complement articles since they have the capacity to add context that otherwise would be very difficult to provide.

Audio narration: Audio narration is an audible content usually in the form of a story or a description of events that acts as support information for the visualization.

Captions: Captions are small bits of text used shortly describe, in a couple of words, an element of the visualization. It can be a name, a keyword, etc.

External link: An external link is a link in another page or another website that can be clicked in order to access extra information that supports the visualization.

Introductory text: An introductory text is a short text that explains what will follow in the visualization or states the purpose and goals of the visualization.

Text: A text is usually a larger information than the annotations. It is commonly more descriptive and more story like.

Title: The title is the name given to the visualization. Almost every visualization has it.

Video narration: Video narration is an audible content usually in the form of a story or a description of events that acts as support information for the visualization and is included in the form of video. This video can be the visualization itself or a separate media that is part of the visualization.

Visual Elements

Animation: Animation is the change of a visual representation over time through the rapid display of sequential static images that minimally differ from each other, resulting in an illusion of movement or shape change.

Arc diagram: A style of string visualization, introduced by Wattenberg in 2002, in which nodes are places along a line and arcs connect the nodes in one of the two halfplanes. The thickness of the arcs can be used to represent frequencies.

Area chart: A chart that is based on the line chart. The area between axis and line are commonly emphasized with colors, textures and hatchings. Commonly one compares with an area chart two or more quantities.

Bar chart: A graph or chart that uses narrow columns of different heights to show and compare different amounts.

Bubble chart: A variation of the scatter plot that uses Cartesian coordinates to display values for two variables and in which a third variable is represented by the size of the bubble.

Bubble map: A map where the quantity of a variable for a specific geographic location is represented by the size of a bubble.

Cartogram: A map where a thematic variable is presented, but the space of the map is distorted in order to convey the information of a quantitative variable. For instance, when mapping world population data by country more populated countries such as China would be larger than less populated countries.

Chord diagram: A diagram used to display relationships between data in a matrix, where these are represented by arranging nodes around a circle and connecting the nodes that share a relationship using a ribbon. The thickness represents a value assigned to that connection and color can be used for categorizing.

Circle graph: In the mathematical area of graph theory, it is an intersection graph that represents the pattern of intersections of a family of sets on a circle.

Circular bar chart: A barchart, also known as radial bar chart, plotted on a polar coordinate system, rather than on a cartesian one. Although more visually appealing, it is often misleading because the outside bars take up more area than the bars on the inside.

Cloropleth: A map in which areas are shaded or patterned in proportion to the value of a variable that corresponds to each geographical location.

Color matrix: It is similar to a matrix (a rectangular arrangement of elements into rows and columns), but instead of each cell having a number, symbol, or expression, it has a color that was previously assigned to a variable.

Decision tree: This is a type of visualization that supports decision making. Decision trees use a tree-like graph to present scenarios and their possible consequences and are commonly used in research, specifically in decision analysis, to help choosing between several courses of action.

Dot map: Also known as a dot distribution map or dot density map, this is a kind of map that uses dots as symbols to show the occurrence of a feature or phenomenon. Dot maps are specially useful to visualize spatial patterns.

Dot plot: Also known as a dot chart, strip chart or stripplot, it consists of data points plotted on a simple scale, typically using filled in circles. The number of dots represented for each variable on the scale represent the value for that variable. It's commonly used to display distribution/frequency.

Doughnut chart: A chart similar to a pie chart, with the exception of a blank center and the ability to support multiple statistics at once.

Exploded view: A diagram, picture or technical drawing of an object, that shows the relationship or order of assembly of various parts.

Flowchart: A flowchart is a type of diagram that represents an algorithm, workflow or process, showing the steps as boxes of various kinds, and their order by connecting them with arrows. Flowcharts are used in analyzing, designing, documenting or managing a process or program in various fields.

Graph: A graph is a representation of a set of objects where some pairs of objects are connected by links.

Heat map: A heat map is a graphical representation of data where the individual values contained in a matrix are represented as colors.

Histogram: A representation of a frequency distribution by means of rectangles whose widths represent class intervals and whose areas are proportional to the corresponding frequencies.

Illustration: An illustration is a visualization or a depiction, such as a drawing, sketch, or painting. It uses examples in order to make something easier to understand. An illustration can be used to elucidate, decorate or represent scientific images, processes or technical information on how to use something.

Line chart: A graph in which points representing values of a variable for suitable values of an independent variable are connected by a broken line.

Logo: A graphic mark or emblem commonly used by commercial enterprises, organizations and even individuals to aid and promote instant public recognition.

Map: A map is a symbolic depiction highlighting relationships between elements of a space. It can be tangible, mimicking the world as truthfully as it can, or as Minard's flow map of Napoleon's March an intangible map, representing the physical place in a way that accentuates other information about it.

Model: A structural design; a miniature representation of something; a pattern of something to be made.

Network diagram: A drawing of a graph or network diagram is a pictorial representation of the vertices and edges of a graph.

Non-ribbon chord diagram: Similarly to the chord diagram, it is a type of diagram used to display relationships between data in a matrix, with the data arranged as nodes around a circle and the data points that share a relationship connected with a line (not a ribbon that represents the value assigned to that connection).

Parallel coordinates: A type of visualization for multivariate data, that usually consists of a set of axis parallel to each other and equally spaced (typically vertical). Each line that connects the different axis is a data point that has a corresponding value for each axis.

Parallel sets: A ways to visualize multivariate categorical data with a layout similar to parallel coordinates, that instead of having individual data points substitutes them by a frequency-based representation.

Photograph: A photograph or photo is an image produced by the action of radiant energy and especially light on a sensitive surface, usually photographic film or an electronic medium such as a CCD or a CMOS chip. It depicts or records visual perception with a similar appearance to the subject photographed.

Pictogram: Also called a pictogramme, pictograph, or icon. It is an ideogram that conveys its meaning through its pictorial resemblance to a physical object.

Pie chart: A chart consisting of a circle that is divided into parts to show the size of the different amounts that are a part of a whole amount.

Polar area: A chart similar to a usual pie chart, where the sectors are equal angles but differ in how far they stretch from the center of the circle out. These charts, credited to Florence Nightingale, are also referred to as coxcombs.

Population pyramid: Also known an age pyramid or age picture diagram, it is a chart that represents the distribution of various age groups in a population through horizontal bars, usually separated by sex, forming the shape of a pyramid when the population is growing.

Pyramid: It is used to show proportional, interconnected, or hierarchical relationships with the largest component on the bottom and narrowing up.

Radar chart: A linechart or areachart plotted on polar coordinates, on which the y-axis is the radius and the x-axis the angle. Although it is a common method to display multivariate data, it is difficult to interpret.

Scale: Commonly used in physics, geography, and other sciences, a scale is something graduated used as a measure or rule. It has a series of marks at known intervals used to measure distances (as the height of the mercury in a thermometer) or used as a scheme of rank or order (a scale of taxation).

Scatter plot: A scatter plot, scatterplot, or scattergraph is a type of mathematical diagram using Cartesian coordinates to display values for two variables for a set of data.

Size representing quantity: This visual representation usually consists on an object of a geometrical shape or a pictogram which its size represents a quantity. There are commonly more than one and are used for comparing quantities.

Speech balloon: A graphic convention used most commonly in comic books, comic strips and cartoons to allow words to be understood as representing the speech or thoughts.

Stacked area chart: A chart based on the area chart, with the different areas represented on top of each other in order for the final shape to represent the overall total.

Stacked bar chart: A bar chart with different groups represented on top of each other.

Stream graph: A type of stacked area chart, on which the areas are displaced around a central axis. This visualization type was created by Lee Byron and later analyzed in detail by its author in the paper "Stacked Graphs – Geometry & Aesthetics."

Sunburst chart: A sunburst chart or a multilevel pie chart, is used to visualize hierarchical data, depicted by concentric circles. he circle in the centre represents the root node, with the hierarchy moving outward from the center.

Table: A table consists of an ordered arrangement of data usually in rows and columns for ready reference. The use of tables is pervasive throughout all communication, research and data analysis. Tables appear in print media, handwritten notes, computer software, traffic signs and many other places.

Tag cloud: Typically represented by the ordering of tags or words inline, in alphabetical order or randomly, and usually manipulated so the the font size represents number of occurences.

Timeline: A way of displaying a list of events in chronological order. It is typically represented by a long bar labelled with dates alongside itself and usually events labelled on points where they would have happened.

Timetable: A representation of a plan that sets out the times at which events are intended to occur. A example of a timetable is a schedule that shows the times when transport (such as a bus or train) is expected to leave and/or arrive.

Tooltip: A common graphical user interface element used in conjunction with a cursor. A small box with information that appears when the user hovers or clicks a certain point or item.

Transit map: A topological map (a simplified map where all the unnecessary detail has been removed) used to represent the routes and stops of a transport system. It is a schematic diagram with color coded lines to indicate each line or service and named icons to indicate stops.

Tree diagram: A way of representing the hierarchical nature of a structure. It resembles a tree, even though the chart is generally upside down compared to an actual tree, with the "root" at the top and the "leaves" at the bottom.

Treemap: A treemap is a display of hierarchical data by using nested rectangles. Each branch is given a rectangle, tiled with smaller rectangles representing sub-branches. A leaf node's rectangle has an area proportional to a specified dimension on the data and is often colored to show a separate dimension.

Venn diagram: A graph that employs closed curves and especially circles to represent logical relations between and operations on sets and the terms of propositions by the inclusion, exclusion, or intersection of the curves.

Video: A video consists of moving images that have been recorded. It can be a movie, television show, event, etc., that has been recorded onto a analogical or digital support so that it can be watched on a television or computer screen.

Wheel: A wheel chart is a circular chart divided into sectors, similar to a pie chart, on which the size of the sectors is always the same and does not represent a numerical proportion. It is commonly composed of several rings that can have the same size or represent a numerical proportion.

Zoom: Zoom as a visual element is an amplification of an image. It can be an amplification on which the original image has extra detail or simply an amplified version of the exact same image.

Interactive Elements

Click details: Click details is the interactive action of showing extra information when a computer user moves the pointer to a certain location on a screen and presses a button on a mouse, usually the left button (click), or other pointing device.

Click highlight: Click highlight is the interactive action of highlighting or emphasizing a content (text, image, pictogram, etc.) when a computer user moves the pointer to a certain location on a screen and presses a button on a mouse, usually the left button (click), or other pointing device.

Combo box: A combo box is a commonly used graphical user interface widget or control. Traditionally, it is a combination of a drop-down list or list box and a single-line editable textbox, allowing the user to either type a value directly into the control or choose from a list of existing options by scrolling.

Drag objects: In computer graphical user interfaces, drag and drop is a pointing device gesture in which the user selects a virtual object by "grabbing" it and dragging it to a different location or onto another virtual object.

Filtering: Filtering is a function that processes a data structure (typically a list) in order to produce a new data structure containing exactly those elements of the original data structure which have in common the characteristic that was chosen in the filter.

Gamification: Gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in the presented situation. Gamification has been studied and applied in several domains, such as to improve user engagement, physical exercise, learning, etc.

Hover details: Hover details are extra bits of information that pop up on mouseover or mouse hover (raised when the user moves or "hovers" the pointer over a particular area).

Hover highlight: Hover highlight is the action of highlighting or emphasizing a content (text, image, pictogram, etc.) on mouseover or mouse hover (raised when the user moves or "hovers" the pointer over a particular area).

Input box: An input box, text field or text box is a widget (or control) that has the purpose of allowing the user to input text information to be used by the visualization. Text boxes usually display a text cursor (commonly a blinking vertical line), indicating the current region of text being edited.

Link to external article: A link to an external article allows the reader to directly follow an article in another page or even another website by clicking. This hyperlink can point to a whole document or to a specific element within a document.

Link to the raw data: A link to the raw data allows the reader to see the original data that gave origin to the visualization. this data can be in provided in the same page of the visualization, in another page of the same website or even in another website. This raw data can be provided in a spreadsheet, a json, etc.

Navigation buttons: Navigation buttons are a user interface element that provides the user a simple way to trigger an navigation event. These buttons allow the user to navigate the information back and forward in a certain order.

Object react to mouse movement: This interaction happens when the mouse movement provided by the user influences the objects on the visualization. For instance, when the mouse approaches the objects these are repelled like if the mouse was pushing the objects.

Player controls: Player or media controls are user interface elements typically associated with media such as video and sound. These controls are used to enact and change or adjust the process of watching film or listening to audio and commonly consist of buttons such as play, pause, stop, etc.

Scroll activated animations: Scroll activated animations are a new trend in web design. These consist on animations or effects that unfold and slide across the screen triggered by touchscreen, computer mouse motion or a keypress.

Scroll bar: A scrollbar is an object in a graphical user interface with which continuous text, pictures or anything else can be scrolled and viewed even if it does not fit into the space in the display, window, or viewport.

Search: A search box or search field is a common GUI element. It is usually a single-line text box with the dedicated function of accepting user input to be searched for in a database. It helps the user to find the information he is looking for by allowing him/her to introduce the terms.

Slider: A slider, also known as track bar in Microsoft literature, is an object in a Graphical User Interface with which a user may set a value by moving an indicator, usually in a horizontal fashion. In some cases the user may also click on a point on the slider to change the setting.

User contribution: When a visualization allows user contribution it allows the user to enter information that will be displayed and become part of the visualization.

Virtual reality: The computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with by a person using special electronic equipment, such as Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear, or with a mobile phone and Google Cardboard (a set of goggles made from cardboard, with plastic lenses).

Zoom: A zooming user interface or zoomable user interface is a graphical environment where users can change the scale of the viewed area in order to see more detail or less, and browse through different documents.


Chart/Diagram: A genre that only co will only comprises visualizations in which the chart or diagram is the main focus of the visualization. It includes every type of chart or ciagram, from the common bar charts to Venn diagrams.

Drawing: This is a type of visualization that combines information and illustration. In order to be effective and become a visualization and not a mere drawing, it has to combine the illustration with another type of visualization such as a chart or a map.

Game: This genre is the least common. It comprises visualizations that use formal elements of games such as rules, goals, scores, competition, and the notion of winning.

Map: A classic type of visualization that can be tangible (it represents where things are placed and tries to mimic as truthfully as it cans the real world) or intangible (it represents not only information about physical places but also about events that occured on those places).

Model: This is a more technical visualization and particularly good to show projects of buildings or to describe complex processes.

Photograph: This genre comprises the visualizations in which one or more photographs are the main part of the visualization.

Poster: These visualizations are generally static mimicking the structure of a vertical poster so common on magazines and marketing campaigns. It conjugates information and graphic elements in order to be appealing and eye-catching and charts and diagrams play an important part of the visualization.

Sequential Graphic: Graphics with a chronological order of events.

Slide Show: A structure that follows a typical slideshow format. It can incorporate interaction within the confines of each slide, allowing the user to explore particular points before moving ahead to the next stage. It has an order imposed by the author but it is not necessarily a chronological sequence.

Tag Cloud: This type of visualization is a representation for text data, more specifically keywords or tags. Tag Clouds are useful to show which words occur more often, the size of the word being the differentiating factor.

Video/Animation: This genre comprises the visualizations in which a video or animation is the main part of the visualization. It also depends on other types of visualizations in other to be considered a Video/Animation visualization.

Reading/Viewing Order

Linear: The reading/viewing path is previously decided by the author of the visualization.

User Directed Path: The user has complete control on how he/she views the visualization and the author of the visualization has minimal control of the path that the user takes, therefore providing several options.