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Data visualisation

What is data visualisation?

Data visualisation is the broad term for the practice of representing data in a visual interpretation. The aim is to summarise and clearly depict data to support understanding and the potential generation of new insights.

Use this guide to find resources and tools for data visualisation. See the Text and data mining guide for information about searching for and extracting data.

Watch What is Data Visualization? (YouTube video) for examples of common ways data can be represented visually.

Examples of data visualisation

Visual interpretations of data range from simple methods, such as word clouds, to complex network diagrams. They can also be interactive, allowing users to manipulate and analyse data. Types of data visualisations include:

  • charts or plots
  • tables
  • graphs
  • maps
  • histograms
  • timelines
  • hierarchy
  • network diagrams and
  • infographics.

Inspiration and further examples

Creating data visualisations

Points to consider

  • Do you have a clear objective?
  • Who is your intended audience?
  • Keep it clean and simple – choose the right tool for the task and include all relevant data
  • How will the tool access your data?
  • Provide a key or description

Help to get started

Which tool should I use?

Pre-made, open source, editable graphs and charts for R and Python

Data visualisation tools

The following is a selection of tools that can assist you with creating or generating visualisations of your data. Many of these tools are also used to analyse data, see the Text and data mining guide for more information.

ACU supplied software

Tool Description
Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint Part of the Microsoft Office suite, Both Excel (spreadsheets) and PowerPoint (slide presentations) have tools for creating visualisations of your data. Ranging from simple graphs and charts to more complex infographics. All ACU students, faculty, and staff have free access to Microsoft Office 365 applications.
Microsoft Power BI A collection of software services, apps, and connectors that work together to turn your unrelated sources of data (for example, a spreadsheet and a cloud-based data warehouse) into coherent, visually immersive, and interactive insights. Available for staff via Software Centre (on ACU devices).
ArcGIS Pro ArcGIS Pro is a full-featured professional desktop GIS application that allows you to explore, visualise, and analyse data and create 2D maps and 3D scenes – available via
Leximancer Text mining software used to analyse data and to visually display the extracted information in a browser. Leximancer is available via or Software Centre (on ACU devices).
Nvivo Qualitative and mixed methods data analysis software available to ACU researchers. Text analysis and data visualisation is also supported. Contact for more information or request via Service Central Request NVivo (login required). for students please complete this NVivo request form
SPSS A comprehensive statistical analysis software platform. Available on ACU computers. Request off-site access by contacting


Online or downloadable software


Disclaimer: Many of these tools are free or open source, however some may require you to create an account or pay to access premium features or content. Permission may be needed before installing on an ACU device - check with IT or Service Central.

Tool Description
Canva An online design and publishing tool with some free content.
Dia Diagram Editor An open-source visual-editing application that can be used to draw various diagrams, including flowcharts, network diagrams, and circuit diagrams. Download from Soundforge or
Gephi A downloadable, open-source data analysis and visualisation tool for representing links, patterns and associations.
Jupyter Notebook A powerful, open-source tool for interactively developing and presenting data science projects. Installation required.
Mentimeter An online, free-to-use, interactive word cloud generator.
Orange A free, open-source, graphical user interface for data analysis and visualisation using Python. Download required.
Python An open-source, computer programming language that is commonly used for developing websites and software, task automation, data analysis, and data visualisation. Download from or via
R and RStudio RStudio is an integrated development environment for R, an open-source, programming language for statistical computing and graphics. Note that RStudio has officially changed its name from RStudio to Posit. Download from or via
Tableau Public A free, online platform to explore, create, and publicly share data visualisations.
VosViewer A free software tool for constructing and visualising bibliometric networks. Available to download or as an online tool.
Voyant Tools A free, web-based environment for analysing digital texts and creating visualisations.

Library resources on data visualisation

  • LinkedIn Learning (available to ACU students & staff) Search for data visualisation. There are many tutorials, ranging in length, to assist with understanding, creating and using data visualisation tools.


A selection of online books