Graphs are a useful way to show numerical data. There are a variety of graphs that can help highlight patterns and be used to reach conclusions in geography. Choosing the right graph is very important.
Line graphs show how data changes over time or space. The x-axis shows time or distance. A line chart could be used to show the changes in a country's employment structure over time. This graph shows that in the post-industrial era approximately 11% of employed people work in primary industries, 31% in secondary industries, 54% in tertiary industries and 4% work in quaternary industries. Note how the total adds up to 100%.
Bar charts show grouped data as rectangular bars, eg the number of tourists visiting a resort each month. Divided bar charts split up each rectangular bar to break the information down further. A divided bar chart could be used to show the age breakdown of tourists visiting a resort.
Population pyramids are bar charts that show how many people of different ages are living in a place or country. Population pyramids show the bars arranged sideways, rather than upwards. The x-axis shows the number of people, the y-axis shows their ages. The bars on the left show the number of males and the bars on the right show the number of females.
Bar charts and line graphs can be combined. Climate graphs are an example of this. The x-axis shows the months of the year and there are two y-axes to show average temperature and total rainfall. The temperature is shown as a line and the rainfall as bars.