5 Tools to Help Beginners Rock Charts and Infographics

17.11.2015 by Tiago Veloso

by Tiago Veloso

Tiago_Veloso.jpgThe data visualization community is extremely willing to help those who are taking their first steps in the field. They often share knowledge and projects on their websites, forums and social media channels. They also develop useful resources to help newcomers cope with initial doubts and questions. 

These resources can be presented as simple well-curated blogrolls, lists of important articles, favorite tools or book recommendations. You should definitively explore each and every website belonging to a data visualization professional that you admire or get inspired by. Chances are you’ll come up with new references and additional tips to expand your skills.

Below you will find other types of resources for beginners; ones that you can use on a regular basis when creating simple charts or complex data visualizations. Ranging from one-page checklists to fully functional websites, here are five important additions to your references toolkit:

The Data Visualisation Catalogue

The Data Visualisation Catalogue is an on-going project developed by designer Severino Ribecca. This site is a great source for beginners because it provides a general overview of the main types of charts along with when to use them and which tools you can use to create them.

data viz catalogue
Also worth mentioning is Severino’s collaboration with Jon Schwabish to develop the The Graphic Continuum poster. The poster breaks down nearly 90 graphic types into five main categories: Distribution, Time, Comparing Categories, Geospatial, Part-to-Whole, and Relationships. It won a bronze medal at last year’s Information is Beautiful Awards and is available for purchase in several sizes here.


Created by Jon Schwabish, this amazing website is open to anyone who is searching for feedback on their visualization designs. It is a great tool for seasoned designers, data visualization specialists, and individual analysts searching to improve their graphic displays. All types of visualizations are welcome: simple single line or bar charts, full-blown infographics and interactive visualizations.


Six Principles of Communicating Data: A Checklist via Data Remixed

In this section of the first chapter of Communicating Data with Tableau (O’Reilly, 2014), Ben Jones lays out six principles of communicating data. He converted these six principles into a simple checklist, providing a friendly reminder of all the important ingredients that go into a successful communication effort. You can download it as a pdf, or use the interactive version.

6 Principles of Communicating Data

The Trifecta Checkup via Junk Charts

The Trifecta Checkup is a general framework for data visualization criticism that allows Kaiser Fung to classify all critiques into eight types. In 2014 he made available a “definitive guide” to his framework, making it easier to understand how it works and how to apply it when analyzing all types of data visualizations. Sounds a bit complicated, but it proves extremely useful to help you avoid some of the common errors in data visualization.


Visualising Data’s Resources page

Finally, we have Visualising Data’s brilliant list of 250+ tools and resources for a much broader view of what’s available out there. The gallery is organized by category to help you filter through its massive archive. Pretty neat, huh?

Visualising Data Tools

It goes almost without saying that you should have an active presence online where the dataviz crowd gathers, like Twitter, Pinterest and some groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. Also, keep an eye out for blog posts, podcasts and videos published by the main data companies, events and academic institutions. And, don’t forget to look for visual references in other galleries beyond Google search results. All of these activities are time consuming but worth the investment, especially if you’re just beginning.

Ready to get started?

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