Anyone can make a chart. Load a dataset into some spreadsheet software, and there you go.
But not everyone can make great charts that are readable, usable, and beautiful. How do you get from boring defaults to insightful data graphics? What are the steps?
You could search the web for sparse code snippets and inconsistent visualization advice, but who has the time and energy for that?
I’ve made the process of advancing past defaults easier for you with a comprehensive collection of visualization tutorials, courses, and guides all in one place.
You’re better than defaults. Learn to make beautiful and useful data graphics.
Hundreds of hours of practical how-tos, with source code and data.
Learn to visualize data, from beginner to advanced. Or, focus on specific data types.
An in-depth newsletter that provides practical guidance on how to visualize data, delivered to your inbox.
Full Archive Search
Quickly access thousands of posts and links on FlowingData, public and members-only.
Members-only links and guides focused on the how of visualization.
Ask questions. Get expert advice.
Visualization in Practice
Learn with real data and concrete examples.
The best way to learn how to visualize data is to start doing it now.
- Make great charts right away.
- Look at real data.
- Experiment with how visual forms work.
- Learn how to negotiate between more efficient and more visually compelling chart types.
- Download source code to apply to your own datasets.
I teach a class on data visualization, and FlowingData has been a source of inspiration and provocative examples for me and my students. Nathan Yau creates discussion generating graphs, starts conversations about other noteworthy data and graphing efforts, and provides useful insights on coding and workflow.
Follow step-by-step examples to make the data graphics you want for reports, presentations, and analysis.
The tutorials are very helpful to move from “Oooo, cool!” to how to actually DO the cool.
Learn to make beautiful and useful visualizations.
There are over 110 detailed tutorials — with more every month — amounting to hundreds of hours of learning.
The tutorials, covering a range of basic, to advanced, to my own visualization projects, walk you through step-by-step so that you can make data graphics for reports, presentations, and analysis.
Tutorials include datasets, source code downloads, and examples to work with.
Sample of the Tutorials
- Small Multiples
- Calendar Heatmaps
- Beeswarm Charts
- Drawing Custom Charts
- Making More Readable Charts
- Choropleth Maps
- Annotating for Context
- Animated Visualization
If you get stuck, there’s a section at the end of each tutorial to ask questions and see previous answers.
You learn not just how to press some buttons or to copy and paste code. Instead, you learn how chart types and visual encodings work so that you can make data graphics, customize them to your needs, and how to make any graphic later on.
Even if you don’t have a specific chart type in mind now, the growing tutorials collection serves as a great reference.
In 2016 I had to learn how to do visualizations in R as well as teach others some best practices in a matter of weeks for a project. I signed up for and went through Nathan’s program in about 3 weeks to learn the basics. I then used, and continue to use, his other tutorials as a way to enhance my skills. The lessons were the right level of detail and the examples interesting to try to replicate. I’m a frequent user of online classes and really value my FlowingData membership.
Start with the basics. Advance.
If you don’t have a specific visualization in mind, and instead are eager to learn it all, membership provides full access to three self-guided courses. Work with the suggested schedule or move at your own pace.
Visualization in R, From Beginner to Advanced
Create basic charts, make use of visualization packages, map geographic data, and create custom graphics to use with your own data.
Visualizing Time Series Data in R
Everything you need to know to see and show patterns over time, from basic chart types to the more advanced.
Mapping Geographic Data in R
Make maps that allow you to see spatial patterns across regions and are great for presentation and communication.
Get the members-only newsletter covering the practical side of visualizing data.
I think of your weekly emails as lessons that I actually take notes on every week and apply the knowledge I learn to my actual job as a data analyst… The membership fee is more than worth it for the information and education you get…
It’s worthwhile to learn the principles behind visualization, but in practice, there are always tradeoffs when you design data graphics. The rules that you read in books usually work more like suggestions. The Process is an in-depth newsletter for FlowingData members that looks more closely at how to apply what we know about visualization in your everyday work.
I publish every Thursday to evaluate visualization tools, discuss what’s new in the field, and offer my own experiences with working with data.
What Others Say
FlowingData is a never-ending source of information, inspiration and instruction in data, visualization and design and Nathan Yau’s approach to exploring these subjects is both technical and familiar, somewhat similar to a discussion of a shared obsession over beers with a friend.
Andrew Sánchez Meador
…the inspiration I needed to start learning to code with a view to building more sophisticated and engaging data visualisations.
…one of the finest resources on visualization…
…I wish I had time to read it all.
As a student who is just getting into the game of visualization (and plans to continue), it has been very helpful to be able to have a closer look behind the scenes.
We generate a lot of data (a large forensic pathology practice), and have found [FD membership] very useful to explain the public health and nosological problems.
I love being a member of FlowingData because you just can’t beat Nathan’s approachable and easy-to-follow tutorials – they’ve saved me so much time. Plus, he always has his finger on the pulse of the data viz community so having access to all of his posts and the weekly newsletter is a MUST for me!”
I’ve used skills from the visualizations both for internal tools at work, as well as for public facing visualizations.