Statistics How To

Descriptive Statistics: Definition & Charts and Graphs

Probability and Statistics > Descriptive Statistics

descriptive statistics: pie chart

Statistics can be broken down into two areas: descriptive statistics — which describes and summarizes data, and inferential statistics — which uses statistics to make predictions. Descriptive statistics just describes data. For example, descriptive statistics about a college could include: the average SAT score for incoming freshmen; the median income of parents; racial makeup of the student body. It says nothing about why the data might exist, or what trends you might be able to see from the data.

Descriptive statistics can be further broken down into several areas, like:

The charts, graphs and plots site index is below. For definitions and information on how to find measures of spread and central tendency, see: Basic statistics (which covers the basic terms you’ll find in descriptive statistics like interquartile range, outliers and standard deviation).

Descriptive Statistics: Charts, Graphs and Plots


How To Articles for Descriptive Statistics

  1. How to Make a Histogram.
  2. How to make a Relative Frequency Histogram.
  3. How to Make a Frequency Chart and Determine Frequency.
  4. How to Choose Bin Sizes in Statistics.
  5. How to Make an Ogive Graph.
  6. How to Read a Box Plot.
  7. How to Find a Box Plot Interquartile Range.
  8. How to Draw a Frequency Distribution Table.
  9. How to Make a Cumulative Frequency Distribution Table.
  10. What are Q Q plots?
  11. How to Find a Quadratic Mean.
  12. How to Make a Stemplot.
  13. Venn Diagram Templates.


Microsoft Excel: Descriptive Statistics

  1. How to Create a Bar Graph in Excel.
  2. How to Create a Histogram in Excel.
  3. How to Make a Scatter Plot in Microsoft Excel.
  4. How to Create a Frequency Distribution Table in Excel.
  5. How to Make a Pie Chart in Excel.
  6. Grubb’s Test to Find Outliers.


Minitab for Descriptive Statistics

  1. How to Make a Scatterplot in Minitab.
  2. How to Make a Boxplot in Minitab.
  3. How to Make a Histogram in Minitab.
  4. How to Create a Bar Graph in Minitab.



  1. How to Make an SPSS Frequency Table.
  2. How to Make an SPSS Histogram.
  3. How to Make a Bar Chart in SPSS.
  4. How to Make an SPSS Boxplot.
  5. How to Make an SPSS Scatterplot.
  6. How to Make a Pie Chart in SPSS.



  1. What is the 68-95-99.7 Rule?
  2. What is the Area Principle?
  3. What is a Back-to-Back Stemplot?
  4. What is a Bar Chart?
  5. What is a Bimodal Distribution?
  6. What is a Cartesian Plane?
  7. What is a Cumulative Frequency Distribution?
  8. What is a Directed Acyclic Graph?
  9. What is a Forest Plot or Blobbogram?
  10. What is a Frequency Distribution Table?
  11. What is a Funnel Plot?
  12. What is Grouped Data?
  13. What are upper hinges and lower hinges?
  14. Interquartile Mean.
  15. Lag plots.
  16. Measures of Spread.
  17. Measures of Variation.
  18. What is a P-Chart?
  19. What is a Pie Chart?
  20. What is a Probability Tree?
  21. What is a Pyramid Graph?
  22. What is a Scatter Plot?
  23. What is a Seven Number Summary?
  24. What is a Skewed Distribution?
  25. Finding Skewness.
  26. Scales of Measurement.
  27. What is a Stemplot?
  28. What is a Symmetric Distribution?
  29. What is a Timeplot?
  30. What is a Uniform Distribution?
  31. What is a Unimodal Distribution?
  32. Upper and Lower Fences.


  1. Misleading Graphs in Real Life.
  2. Types of Graphs.

There are literally dozens of charts and graphs you can make from data. which one you choose depends upon what kind of data you have and what you want to display. For example, if you wanted to display relationships between data in categories, you could make a bar graph.

Grouped bar graph. Image: CDC.

Grouped bar graph. Image: CDC.

A pie chart would show you how categories in your data relate to the whole set.

Pie chart showing water consumption. Image courtesy of EPA.

Pie chart showing water consumption. Image courtesy of EPA.

Scatter plots are a good way to display data points.

Image: Penn State

Image: Penn State

Less common, but useful in some cases, include dot plots and box and whisker charts:

dot plot example

Simple dot plot showing the types of foods a group of friends eats.

Box and whiskers graph

Box and whiskers graph


If you prefer an online interactive environment to learn R and statistics, this free R Tutorial by Datacamp is a great way to get started. If you're are somewhat comfortable with R and are interested in going deeper into Statistics, try this Statistics with R track.

Comments are now closed for this post. Need help or want to post a correction? Please post a comment on our Facebook page and I'll do my best to help!
Descriptive Statistics: Definition & Charts and Graphs was last modified: November 22nd, 2017 by Stephanie Glen