Figures’ types mindmap

In order to help students while they are learning to deal with scientific articles we have developed a series of exercises to find and read articles. One specific issue is to describe the figures. In order to help them the idea emerged to provide them with a mindmap that would regroup all types of figures.

A good starting point seems to be the 28 categories identified by Jobin (2019): Line graph, Natural image, Table, 3D object, Bar plot, Scatter plot, Medical image, Sketch, Geographic map, Flow chart, Heat map, Mask, Block diagram, Venn diagram, Confusion matrix, Histogram, Box plot, Vector plot, Pie chart, Surface plot, Algorithm, Contour plot, Tree diagram, Bubble chart, Polar plot, Area chart, Pareto chart and Radar chart.

Then the idea is to identify relevant categories. A fairly obvious category is photographs (Yuan 2014). This category will contain natural images, medical images and 3D objects. The medical images could then be detailed further following Hanna (2019) “Medical research sometimes makes use of a variety of photographs or images: photographs of a patient or part of a patient, x-rays and other forms of radiography, MRIs, CT scans, nuclear medical imaging, ultrasound images, histology slides, other micrographs, gels, blots, etc”. Gel and blots are actually not specific to medicine but are rather biochemistry techniques.

Then the remaining types of figures could be regrouped by type of data representation:

  • 2D plots (scatter plot, line graph, histogram, polar plot),
  • 3D plots (heat map, surface plot, vector plot, contour plot, bubble chart), 
  • data showing the relationship between data (Venn diagram, confusion matrix, tree diagram),
  • representation of procedures (flow chart, algorithm, block diagram),
  • data on series (bar plot, pareto chart, area chart, box plot, pie chart, radar chart)
  • other types (geographic map, sketch, mask).
mindmap of figures’ types.

Of course any comment/idea/suggestion is welcomed!

Hanna, M. (2019). Figures: Photographs and Images. In How to Write Better Medical Papers (pp. 109-111). Springer, Cham.

Jobin, K. V., Mondal, A., & Jawahar, C. V. (2019, September). DocFigure: a dataset for scientific document figure classification. In 2019 International Conference on Document Analysis and Recognition Workshops (ICDARW) (Vol. 1, pp. 74-79). IEEE.


Yuan, X., & Ang, D. (2014). A novel figure panel classification and extraction method for document image understanding. International journal of data mining and bioinformatics, 9(1), 22-36.

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