Recommended Dataviz Tools

You’re welcome to use whichever tools you prefer for your data visualizations, but these are the tools with which we have the most experience and recommend:

You can get pretty far with Excel’s built-in charts and graphs. They often don’t look wonderful, but if they work, they work!

Google Fusion Tables makes a great starting point, especially for simpler charts, like pie charts and bar charts. You can’t do a ton of customization, but you can produce results with just a few clicks. Here’s a basic tutorial.

Tableau has a lot of advanced features and documentation. If you want to install it on your own laptop, choose Tableau Public. This tool can be a little overwhelming at first, but UCLA’s Lynda library has video tutorials; you might start with “Up and Running with Tableau.”

You can make some really cool graphs and charts with RAW, and it’s easy to embed them on a website.

Quadrigram is a drag-and-drop, web-based tool for data visualization that’s pretty easy to use, and it’s pretty easy to embed the charts and graphs in your website.

DataWrapper makes great-looking, simple, embeddable data visualizations. Definitely recommended if you’re not trying to do anything super-complicated.

I love Palladio, but it’s important to understand what it is and what it isn’t. It’s designed for the exploration (not necessarily the presentation) of humanities data. So while you can produce some impressive visualizations, you can’t really embed them. (You can take screenshots, though!)

If you want to compare and contrast many images with each other, you can try ImagePlot, but just be aware that it’s not super-easy to use and we haven’t tested it in awhile.

If you want to try your hand at some custom programming, we recommend the JavaScript libraries D3 and P5. They’re not too hard to use! For learning D3, this is my favorite book. For learning P5, this is the best resource.

Want MOAR TOOLS? Here’s a huge list.

Whatever tool, you choose, be sure you pick the right visualization for your data.