A Venn diagram is a visual chart featuring two or more overlapping circles.

Each circle represents a specific idea or data set, with the overlapping sections representing concepts the data sets have in common.

Venn diagrams are ideal for comparing ideas and understanding how multiple concepts relate.

In addition to being used in data comparisons, Venn diagrams have crept into pop culture, appearing in memes, social media, and education.

This means understanding Venn diagrams isn’t just crucial for managers and business leaders—everyone should deeply understand what Venn diagrams are and how they work.

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**4 types of Venn diagrams**

When you imagine a Venn diagram, you likely picture two shaded circles with a small section of overlap.

However, there are several types of Venn diagrams, each with a different use.

**2-circle Venn diagram**

A two-circle Venn diagram is the most common Venn diagram type and features two overlapping circles. It compares two different data sets.

For example, a marketing team might use a two-circle diagram to compare two target audiences and determine how to market to both most effectively.

**3-circle Venn diagram**

As expected, a three-circle Venn diagram has three circles representing three different data sets or concepts.

The main difference between a two- and three-circle Venn diagram is that the three-circle model shows how each concept relates to the others and how all three are similar.

For example, you can see how concept A relates to B, how A relates to C, and how A relates to both concepts B and C.

A product marketing team might use a three-circle Venn diagram to compare the features of three different product models.

**4-circle Venn diagram**

This is where things begin to get more complicated.

As you might expect, a four-circle Venn diagram features four overlapping circles.

However, each circle generally overlaps with each opposing circle separately, two of the concepts together, AND all four concepts.

At this point, using the Edwards-Venn diagram model is ideal, as the format makes it easier to see how each concept relates to and differs from others.

**5-circle Venn diagram**

A five-circle Venn diagram features five different circles that overlap with each other and all circles at once.

Using this type of Venn diagram allows you to see how Concept 1 relates to Concept 2, Concept 1 relates to Concepts 2 and 3 together, and so forth.

While you could create a Venn diagram with six or more circles, any more than five tends to become too complicated to use easily.

When comparing more than five concepts, consider using a mind map.

**Glossary and symbols of the Venn diagram**

**Circles**

Circles are the foundation of Venn diagrams. Each circle represents one concept, idea, or topic.

Generally, each circle is a different color, and the overlapping sections are either shaded or a mix of the two colors.

**Complement symbol (A’)**

The complement symbol represents elements not in a specific data set but in the universal set.

For example, if you know the set of products currently in stock (A), the complement (A’) tells you which products are out of stock.

**Edwards-Venn diagram**

The Edwards-Venn diagram, also called the Edwards-Venn construction, is a way to create Venn diagrams that more accurately represent relationships between more than three data sets.

This type of diagram uses specific patterns to keep the diagram organized, even when adding more sets.

This makes it helpful to visualize how many groups overlap in complex situations.

**Intersection symbol (∩)**

The intersection symbol represents where two concepts overlap or share qualities.

For example, in a Venn diagram comparing “apples” to “oranges,” the intersection might include seeded fruits, fruits that grow on trees, and fruits commonly juiced.

**Non-overlapping areas**

Non-overlapping areas represent concepts that datasets do not share.

For example, in a Venn diagram comparing “apples” and “oranges” this list might include the color and taste of each fruit.

**Overlapping areas**

Like the intersection symbol, the overlapping areas represent shared qualities between two or more concepts.

**Union symbol (U)**

The union symbol represents the concept of “overlapping circles.” It signifies similarity between two or more concepts.

**Better understand concepts with Venn diagrams **

Venn diagrams are helpful tools for visualizing the similarities and differences between two or more sets of data.

They’re simple to make and valuable in various settings, including business, education, and even memes.

Now that you understand Venn diagrams and how they work, it’s time to create your own.

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