Dot Plots

A Dot Plot is a graphical display of data using dots.

Example: Minutes To Eat Breakfast

A survey of "How long does it take you to eat breakfast?" has these results:


Which means that 6 people take 0 minutes to eat breakfast (they probably had no breakfast!), 2 people say they only spend 1 minute having breakfast, etc.

And here is the dot plot:

dot plot with stacks of dots

You can create your own dot plots.

Another version of the dot plot has just one dot for each data point like this:

Example: (continued)

This has the same data as above:

dot plot lines and numbers

But notice that we need numbers on the side so we can see what the dots mean.


Example: Access to Electricity across the World

Some people don't have access to electricity (they live in remote or poorly served areas). A survey of many countries had these results:

CountryAccess to Electricity
(% of population)
Bangladesh 59.6
...... etc

But hang on! How do we make a dot plot of that? There might be only one "59.6" and one "37.8", etc. Nearly all values will have just one dot.

The answer is to group the data (put it into "bins").

In this case let's try rounding every value to the nearest 10%:

CountryAccess to Electricity
(% of population,
nearest 10%)
Algeria 100
Angola 40
Argentina 100
Bahrain 100
Bangladesh 60
...... etc

Now we count how many of each 10% grouping and these are the results:

Access to Electricity
(% of population,
nearest 10%)
 Number of
10 5
20 6
30 12
40 5
50 4
60 5
70 6
80 10
90 15
100 34

So there were 5 countries where only 10% of the people had access to electricity, 6 countries where 20% of the people had access to electricity, etc

Here is the dot plot:

dot plot
Percent of Population with Access to Electricity

And that is a good plot, it shows the data nicely.