Create A Graph Tutorial

Analyzing Area Graphs

Like line graphs, area graphs can be used to show how something changes over time. They can be used when you're plotting data that has peaks (ups) and valleys (downs), or that was collected in a short time period. The following pages describe the different parts of an area graph.

Enrollment Trends in Public and Private Schools in the U.S. from 1970 to 2000

The Title

The title offers a short explanation of what is in your graph. This helps the reader identify what they are about to look at. It can be creative or simple as long as it tells what is in the graph. The title of this graph tells the reader that the graph contains information about the changes in enrollment of elementary and secondary schools from 1970 to 2000.

The Legend

The legend tells what each shaded area represents. Just like on a map, the legend helps the reader understand what they are looking at. This legend tells us that the blue area represents enrollment in public schools and the yellow area represents enrollment in private schools.

The Source

The source explains where you found the information that is in your graph. It is important to give credit to those who collected your data! In this graph, the source tells us that we found our information from the NCES.


In area graphs, the y-axis runs vertically (up and down). Typically, the y-axis has numbers for the amount of stuff being measured. The y-axis usually starts counting at 0 and can be divided into as many equal parts as you want to. In this area graph, the y-axis is measuring the number of students enrolled in public and private schools.

The Data

The most important part of your graph is the information, or data, it contains. Area graphs can present more than one group of data at a time. In this graph, two sets of data are presented.


In area graphs, like the one above, the x-axis runs horizontally (flat). Typically, the x-axis has numbers representing different time periods or names of things being compared. In this area graph, the x-axis measures different school years.

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