For the graph to represent your data most effectively, consider the following guidelines.

- The sample size should be less than approximately 50
- Because a stem-and-leaf plot represents each data value, it is best when the sample size is less than approximately 50. If the sample is greater than 50, the data points on the plot may extend too far, and the distribution may be difficult to assess. If you have more than 50 data points, consider using a boxplot or a histogram.
- The sample data should be selected randomly
- In statistics, random samples are used to make generalizations, or inferences, about a population. If your data were not collected randomly, your results may not represent the population.