How to Create Frequency Charts

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  • 0:00 What Is a Frequency Chart?
  • 1:01 Why Use Frequency Charts?
  • 2:06 How to Make a Frequency Chart
  • 2:49 Frequency Chart Example
  • 4:00 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

Frequency charts allow us to quickly figure out how many times a specific event has happened. As you can imagine, this is very useful for everything from figuring out who ate the most pizza to finding the median of a group of scores.

What Is a Frequency Chart?

Charts and graphs are some of the most useful tools of math. They can visually describe a great deal of data that would otherwise take a great deal of words to depict. With all those words comes a higher likelihood of an error. Charts and graphs are less prone to error since they are, well, simpler. However, there is a disadvantage. No single chart or graph can show every aspect of data. Frankly, we wouldn't want to try to read a chart that could! Instead, we have to be able to read a variety of graphs, charts, and other visuals in order to make the most of visual displays of data. One of these charts that serves a very specific purpose with regards to how it shows data is a frequency chart. A frequency chart does just that - it shows the number of times that a specific event has happened. As we will see, this can be a pretty valuable bit of information.

Why Use Frequency Charts?

So why should we even care about the number of times something happens? Simply put, sometimes it's not just enough to know the most immediate facts about something. Let's say that you were planning to buy a bunch of different sizes of plates for a party. You want to buy plates depending on how many pieces of pizza each person typically eats. An average alone can tell you the size of plate that will be too small for about half of the people and too large for about half. However, a frequency chart allows you to make sure that you have big enough plates for everyone. That way, your college-football-playing cousin gets a big enough plate for his 8 pieces, while your baby cousin has a small enough plate for her 1 piece.

Also, frequency charts allow us to quickly calculate data. Need to find the total number of events? All of them are in one column, so it is easy to add them all up. What about a median? That's pretty easy to find, too, simply by finding the halfway point. What about a mode? That's the easiest of all - simply find the category with the largest number of occurrences!

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