We have an user interface that at some point displays data in Venn diagrams. So far its a chart with 3 entities (circles) in the diagram and it's really clear to show the relations between entities with the intersections between them.

The 3 components of the chart are:

  • Country (e.g. US)
  • Card Type (e.g. Debit)
  • Commerce Type (e.g. Departamental Stores)

Now we were asked to modify that chart showing 5 or even more entities, but Venn diagrams get more confusing as we add more circles.

Is there a better way to show this kind of data instead of using Venn diagrams?

  • What type of relationship are you trying to show? With Venn diagrams it isn't exactly clear what the relationship between the entities is. You can consider a matrix table or graph/chart depending on the situation.
    – Michael Lai
    Commented Sep 4, 2013 at 22:15
  • @MichaelLai I've edited the question in relation to your comment Commented Sep 4, 2013 at 22:28
  • These are all categorical types of information, so it can become complex quite quickly as you introduce more elements into the chart. It also depends on which categories have more potential entries compared to others (e.g. there may only be 5 countries available or 3 card types). I would choose the highest level grouping based on which has the least number of options, and create either a table or an organization chart style of diagram instead.
    – Michael Lai
    Commented Sep 4, 2013 at 22:36
  • 1
    Why not use something like parallel coordinates or parallel sets 1 2? These are more dense but require interactive manipulation to read.
    – Dan D.
    Commented Sep 5, 2013 at 7:00
  • Do you need to represent value ratios? Commented Sep 5, 2013 at 7:57

1 Answer 1


Have a look at https://github.com/mbostock/d3/wiki/Gallery you might be interested in

  • circular packing,
  • parallel coordinates,
  • snaky diagrams and
  • chord diagrams

Mathematically they are good alternatives to represent relationship between entities and a viable replacement for venn diagrams.

As for Venn diagrams with lots of circles, (in the worst case scenario) this will help you http://www.benfrederickson.com/2013/05/09/venn-diagrams-with-d3.js.html

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