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Create and use a heat chart

A heat chart is used to visualize the numeric relationship between two categorical variables. A heat chart consists of a rectangular grid composed of two categorical variables. Each cell in the grid is symbolized using a numeric value.

Heat charts can help you answer questions about your data, such as: How are numeric values distributed or summarized by two categories? How are two categories related?


A crime analyst is studying the frequency of theft-related crimes in her city. She wants to know the type of incident occurring most often and the months that have the most crime. A heat map can be used to visualize the relative prevalence of each crime for each month.

Heat chart showing the number and type of incident for each month

Create a heat chart

To create a heat chart, complete the following steps:

  1. Select one of the following combinations of data:
    • Two string fields String field
    • Two string fields String field plus a number Number field or rate/ratio field Rate/ratio field

    If you do not select a number or rate/ratio field, your data will be aggregated and a count will be displayed.

  2. Create the heat chart using the following steps:
    1. Drag the selected fields to a new card.
    2. Hover over the Chart drop zone.
    3. Drop the selected fields on Heat Chart.

You can also create charts using the Chart menu above the data pane or the Visualization type button Visualization type on an existing card. For the Chart menu, only charts that are compatible with your data selection will be enabled. For the Visualization type menu, only compatible visualizations (including maps, charts, or tables) will be displayed.

Heat charts can also be created using View Heat Chart, which is accessed from the Action button Action under Find answers > How is it distributed?.

Usage notes

Heat charts are symbolized using graduated colors. You can use the Legend button Legend to view the classes and make selections based on the corresponding values on the chart. Use the Options tab Options to change the classification type and number of classes. The Style tab Style can be used to change the color palette.

Use the Visualization type button Visualization type to switch directly between a heat chart and other visualizations, such as a grouped summary table, a bar chart with a Subgroup field, or a data clock.

When you create a heat chart, a result dataset Results with the string and number fields used to create the chart will be added to the data pane. The result dataset can be used to find answers with nonspatial analysis using the Action button Action.