Read Prof. Edward Tufte's books, and you shall know all you need to.
RE: Question 1:
Scatter plot or bar chart, never a line chart. Your data density is way to low to have any releavance with regards to temporal or other multi-dimensional relations.
RE: Question 2:
Refrain from "spicing up". It's bad data graphics design. Any info that is not in the data, cannot be artificially introduced by adding fancy graphical elements. Either the values speak for themselves or they don't. Likewise, it is prohibitive to mix different data series that share no causal relation or do not have the same density. Both your examples are "bad" diagrams which would get shredded on Junk Charts and similar websites.
All of that and much more is explained in the books (or the man himself in his lectures), so I once more recommend you do some reading.
Thanks for your input. Re-reading my original post, admittedly it sounds like I'm wanting to put sparkles and stars all over my charts. Not the case at all.
Refrain from "spicing up". It's bad data graphics design. Any info that is not in the data, cannot be artificially introduced by adding fancy graphical elements.
When I say "spice up my charts," I'm not wanting to distort data or make it hard to understand and I'm not necessarily wanting to add graphic elements. I'm simply wanting to see examples for charts and infographics that others have done as the publication I'm working on has 50+ charts on about 16 pages. I was hoping to get some inspiration so I could make it a little less overwhelming (for the reader) with charts as this year's version is different from past year's -- same number of charts, but different types of charts. Perhaps "spicing up" was not the best way to explain.
Either the values speak for themselves or they don't. Likewise, it is prohibitive to mix different data series that share no causal relation or do not have the same density.
The data we are using for this specific type of chart is very much related.
I'm simply wanting to see other people's work so I can see what type of data they used and for inspiration for infographics.
It would be nice if Illustrator address the issue that Illustrator is an Illustration tool and it is often easy for the public to relate to chats and graphs
when they see elements that are recognizable as opposed to spikes and low points.
If it had its own 3D controls that would be helpful too but this how you can currently add art to the charts and keep them as live data.