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About Thing 21

Purpose: Visualizations are a great way to share the narratives in your data with external audiences. Since it is free and doesn’t require any downloads, Flourish is a great tool to get started making data visualizations.

Learning Outcomes: Users will learn about different types of data visualizations and create a data visualization of their own using Flourish.

Intended Audience: Intermediate

Author: Claudia Berger, Sarah Lawrence College

Expected Duration: 60-75 minutes

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

Getting Started

If you’ve spent all of this time making your data into linked open data, it is likely that at some point you’ll want to share the narrative of your data with other people. You might be applying for a grant, writing a blog post for the public, sharing your work at a conference, or something else entirely. Data visualizations are a great partner to written or spoken work to illustrate and summarize your dataset. There are so many forms of visualizations, from tables to bar charts to maps, it can be tricky to know where and how to get started. Here we will be using Flourish to generate visualizations because it is free and web-based.  


There are so many different types of charts and graphs you can use to visualize your data, it can be overwhelming to know what to pick. The following resources can help explain the different types of visualizations and what they can be good for. These aren’t hard and fast rules, just guidelines.


Now that we have more of an idea of what a data visualization is and could be, it is time to try making one. Visit Flourish, make an account, and pick one of the two tutorials below to complete. Depending on your learning style there is a video and a written tutorial, both cover similar topics.

Tutorial (choose one):

Note that when you click the “new visualization” button in Flourish and choose a template, sample data is already populated to show you an example of what your table, chart, graph, or map might look like.

Now try making a visualization with some of your own data. If you don’t have your own data set, you can use the "Detroit 2018 Citizen Complaints By Month_Type" data set available at the start of the Getting Started with Flourish tutorial by Andy Boyles Petersen.

Play around with color and visualization types to see what is the most effective.

Optional Next Step

Network graphs can be particularly useful for linked open data as a way to show the connections between your entities. They can be slightly more confusing to create, as they require your data to be formatted in specific ways. However, Andy Boyles Petersen has also created a written tutorial on how to create network visualizations in Flourish. Note that a few labels have changed in Flourish since the guide was written. Miriam Posner has also created a guide on how to create an edge list (one of the required elements) for network visualizations using OpenRefine. 


Does visualizing your data show you new things you hadn’t considered? Does it reinforce hunches you already had?

Consider sharing your reflection responses in the Comments section at the bottom of the page.

Additional Resources

Claim Credit

Need a certificate of completion? Answer the questions below, submit them, and you’ll receive an email confirmation with a link to download your certificate. 

Does visualizing your data show you new things you hadn’t considered? Does it reinforce hunches you already had?