Network diagram

Network diagram

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A diagram in which nodes (vertices) representing objects or people are connected to each other via lines (edges), organized to keep strongly related things grouped together. Some diagrams use the size of the vertex to show how many edges it is connected to. Good for showing relationships between multiple entities, such as those between people that know each other, or computers in a network.


  • Large and complex networks may take a while for computers to render.
  • Especially dense or large networks can be hard to read, and some data doesn't work well as a network diagram, for example, chronological time lines.
  • Use a monochromatic color scheme with thin line weights to ensure the diagram is easy on the eyes.

Related techniques

Diagram map: An abstract representation of a network, such as a transit map or a power grid. Diagram maps do not emphasize exact information (such as location) about entities, but rather how the entities are connected. This will not be particularly useful unless there is a fairly high number of elements that are connected in fairly complex ways. Example: [1] is a comparison of the NYC subway system's current topographic map with a diagram map.

Sankey diagram: A flow diagram showing input and/or output as arrows leading away from the main system, in which the size of the arrows represents the quantity of the flow. Good for showing proportions of a whole, isolated system in a sequential, quantitative dataset.

Pearl necklet: Shows network connections in a linear manner, with the distance between all the nodes being a fixed length. This visualization does not depict geographical values or interconnectedness between entities, just the simple linear connection. Use this to show sequential relationships between entities, to the exclusion of other attributes such as distance or time. This is often used for subway maps, although a website's breadcrumb trail is considered a version of this. Also, its long and narrow form makes it ideal for small spaces.

Tree diagram: A diagram showing a node and lines connecting it to other nodes to show information about items in an hierarchical structure. This is frequently used for textual analysis. Example: Glossary visualization.

Timeline: Also known as a chronology. It graphically represents a sequence of events to show chronological order. Example: Marquette University Timeline

Thread arcs: Describes how a group of messages in a communication system relate to each other causally, such as how people reply to email threads. Use this to show the causal connections of communications between large numbers of people


  • Learn more about the network diagram at ManyEyes