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Displaying Data

Module by: Susan Dean, Barbara Illowsky, Ph.D.. E-mail the authors

Summary: This module provides a brief introduction into the ways graphs and charts can be used to provide visual representations of data.

A statistical graph is a tool that helps you learn about the shape or distribution of a sample. The graph can be a more effective way of presenting data than a mass of numbers because we can see where data clusters and where there are only a few data values. Newspapers and the Internet use graphs to show trends and to enable readers to compare facts and figures quickly.

Statisticians often graph data first to get a picture of the data. Then, more formal tools may be applied.

Some of the types of graphs that are used to summarize and organize data are the dot plot, the bar chart, the histogram, the stem-and-leaf plot, the frequency polygon (a type of broken line graph), pie charts, and the boxplot. In this chapter, we will briefly look at stem-and-leaf plots, line graphs and bar graphs. Our emphasis will be on histograms and boxplots.

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