Repost from Medium

There are certain limitations to conventional, old school charts. As the number of data groups increase, fit lines tend to overlap and stymie the purpose of the visualization. To make things easier, alternative chart types rush to aid.

Multiples is a means to create the same type of diagrams on a grid, in order to make the data visually comparable side by side. Multiples are also called trellis chart or lattice chart. But we prefer the more general name of multiples because it goes beyond charts and include maps and other type of visualizations as well.

Multiples allows users to make direct comparison and identify patterns in your data faster and helps decluttering the data. In essence, multiples is very identical to a chart with multiple lines; each chart presents a small story.

As you might have guessed by now, this diagram shines when you are dealing with a set of inter-related data and you want to picture a trend while comparing the elements. Multiples prevent over-cluttering in a chart.

On a side note; depending on the data type, it might be hard for viewers to grasp the concept since the charts created here will be smaller and include less detail.

Imagine you had a chart as below:

It looks like a huge mess; there are too many lines crossing each other, it is hard to observe the changes and this certainly isn’t a good example of data visualization. Let’s try drawing this in a different way.

Now we can see variations and trends in each category clearly.

This particular diagram comes with a flexibility; you can adjust the axes, so that you can play with the data and focus on the important bits. Scaling all the charts to be the same will let users see the inter-relation. Here is another terrible-looking chart.

If this chart was to be drawn using multiples, we would get something like this; where you can see trends in each graph:

Here is another example, with Donut charts. This sample of gender distribution by departments would be fairly hard to visualize with another method, without aggravating it.

Looking at this, it is extremely easy to discern the outliers and see the breakdown in a single diagram.

Maps are a great way (in most cases, the only sensible way too) to visualize locational attributes. Multiple maps sorted in a fashionable pattern, however, can show a trend or grouping. Instead of using a filter and displaying one map at a time, you will have all at once.

This diagram is extremely useful when you want to see everything at a glimpse, instead of turning pages or losing time with filters.

Multiples diagrams offer an effective solution to visualize complex data. By nature; they don’t take as much space, are very easy to use and provide vast insight. Benefitting from common charts, multiples produce fashionable results in a simple way.