Visuals Overview

Visuals are used to complement text in documents. Visuals are classified according to Tables or Figures.

A table is used to organize data in volumes and rows using numbers and words. Tables present a logical representation of data. Tables are usually used to show comparison data.

Figures, on the other hand, illustrate all other types of data. Figures include such visuals as pie charts, line graphs, bar graphs, layouts, photographs, drawings and photographs:

  • Pie Charts show segments that compare percentages of a whole.
  • Line graphs show the relationship between two or more variables.
  • Horizontal Bar Graphs show comparisons of similar units.
  • Vertical Bar Graphs illustrate timelines.
  • Layouts show detailed space.
  • Flow Charts show time sequences or hierarchal structures
  • Drawings eliminate unnecessary details to more effectively show how items relate to other items.
  • Photographs are exact representations of items. ¬†(Riordan, 2005)

Note that although visuals and text complement each other, either can stand alone. Both include and express the same information in different formats.

References:  Riordan, D.G. (2005). Technical report writing today. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

See the following examples of Tables and Figures:


Car Prices Table

Two-Column Simple Table



Five-Column Table



Generic Pie Chart

Pie Chart


Bar Chart of Canadian Population 2011

Horizontal Bar Graph


Chart of Number of Humans launched into space

Vertical Bar Graph


Line Graph with Population of Thoralby

Line Graph


Flow Chart

Flow Chart


Southern Stingray Line Drawing



SS Columbia



Orchestra Layout