I have been trying to find information on this type of chart and just keep getting unintended results. Is there a name or search term to find bar charts that replace the bars with color coded objects like in this example:

enter image description here

If anyone is interested I'm researching it to offer a solution to this question on the Graphic Design exchange: How do I use designs in a stacked bar chart with precise statistics?

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    $\begingroup$ Other than little men (cows, beer barrels, sheaves of wheat), the generic term I know is pictogram. (I am not sure I understand "color coated" here; the objects can be black in colour. Do you mean "coded"? Still don't know what that would mean.) $\endgroup$
    – Nick Cox
    May 20, 2014 at 13:46
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    $\begingroup$ @NickCox: my guess would be: color-coded in the sense that the little black men live in the city and the little yellow-ish ones live in the countryside. $\endgroup$
    – nico
    May 20, 2014 at 14:04
  • $\begingroup$ @nico That's helpful. However, pictograms have often been drawn without using colour and being coloured is not part of the definition. I imagine that's not in doubt but I will spell it out. (This site resists standard English spelling in favour of American.) $\endgroup$
    – Nick Cox
    May 20, 2014 at 15:01

1 Answer 1


That type of infographic stems from the work of Otto Neurath on the Vienna method of pictorial statistics (a picture language later called Isotype) between the mid 1920s and the mid 1930s.

As a result, these might be called numerous things - "Isotype charts", "Vienna method charts" or "Vienna pictorial charts". You might even call it a "Neurath chart". You do sometimes see "pictogram chart" as perhaps a slightly more generic term. If you search on all those terms you turn up plenty of examples (plus imposters that Neurath would disown, such as versions using image size instead of repetition to indicate quantity).

Simple ones resemble bar charts or are reminiscent of dot charts, but more commonly they contain icons or symbols meant to suggest the subject of whatever information is being displayed - often people, but they could be almost anything; for Isotype, the particular visual style of the images is due to the artist Gerd Arntz. The graphics were often black and white, but in other cases used colors, symbols inside the icons - or both - to distinguish subgroups.

Here are a few examples of this style of graphic:






A few additional links:





With a suitable typeface ("font"), they're relatively simple to do - for example, this one uses a character from the Windows font Webdings (which has a number of somewhat-Isotype-style symbols in it):

enter image description here


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