Area Chart

Similar to a Line Chart but different in its appearance is the Area Chart. Like the line chart, it can illustrate a time-series relationship, changing trends or stability. It also helps you to visualize long term changes of two or more variables. The difference though, is that a line chart will connect dots, value points through segments, while the area chart will fill the area below the plotted lines with color. This can help the understanding when several variables need to be compared in their volume. However, there are different area charts that have different readability.


These charts are layered area chart, stacked area chart or percentage area chart, all highlighting relative differences between multiple variables. The traditional stacked area chart is the easiest to grasp: the vertical total shows the whole and the height of the different variables show the parts of the dataset. You can create a traditional stacked area chart to show raw values stacked, displaying an evolution over time. Or you can stack percentages, to show a distribution of categories as parts of a whole, where there is less importance given to the cumulative total.


How to create a Stacked Area or Percentage Area Chart


area chart exmaple created with datapine


  1. Open the chart ceator with a click on Analyze in the upper navigation bar.
  2. From the dropdown menu located on the tool bar, select Area as chart type.
  3. Drag and drop the field you want to measure into Measures, such as the number of new customers.
  4. Add the field you wish to use to break down your data to the Dimension. Just like for the line charts this should be a time field such as the signup date.
  5. To further breakdown your result set, drop the field that you wish to use to split up your data into Decompose. The variables of this field will then be displayed in the legend of the chart.
  6. Now open the chart options with a click on the gear wheel icon in the right upper corner of the chart preview and then select Format Chart Area from the dropdown menu.
  7. This will open the chart options menu on the right side of the screen. You can now decide whether you wish to display your Chart as a simple Stacked Area Chart or as Stacked Percentage Area Chart.


Tip 1: Avoid area charts when you do not need to portray a part to a whole relationship. Prefer the line chart instead.


Tip 2: When possible, try to stay away from un-stacked area charts. These charts can indeed get confusing when the upper layers are obscuring the lower ones; so if you really want to use it, be careful not to overload the graph.