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A Guide To Venn Diagram Symbols (And Examples)

By Aditya Rana, Jun 28, 2023

understanding venn diagram symbols

For many of us, I’m sure Venn diagrams are a happy reminder of our youth.

Diagrams and fond memories of childhood? Wait, let me explain!

In school, Venn diagrams were handy tools whenever we wanted to compare and contrast data, such as which candy was the most popular in class.

All you had to do was draw a few overlapping circles and voila.

But Venn diagrams are more than just fun play tools. They can be used to represent complex ideas related to logic and probabilities in real-world settings.

Unfortunately, creating a Venn diagram manually is a major headache, especially when it comes to aligning circles and ensuring text fits properly.

Well, the good news is making Venn diagrams is easy with Venngage’s Venn Diagram Maker.

And if you really want to speed up the process, check out these fully customizable Venn diagram templates.

In this post, I’ll explain what Venn diagram symbols are, what they mean, why they matter, and then teach you how to create your very own Venn diagram.


Before I move forward, just a little reminder. Some of our Venn diagram templates are free to use and some require a small monthly fee. Sign-up is always free, as is access to Venngage’s online drag-and-drop editor.

Click to jump ahead:

What is a Venn diagram?

On the surface, a Venn diagram shows similarities and differences between data sets.

But that would be doing John Venn, the British mathematician who designed these diagrams a disservice.

If you dig deeper, Venn diagrams can be better defined as visual aids that help demonstrate symbolic logic, which is a system of symbols to determine the validity or invalidity of arguments for deductive reasoning.

Here’s an example:

Type 2 Diabetes Infographic

What are the symbols of a Venn diagram?

For most use cases, we can define a Venn diagram with three symbols:

  • Intersection symbol (∩)
  • Union symbol (U)
  • Complement symbol (Xc)

To understand Venn diagram symbols, we need to understand set theory.

I promise it’s not complicated. Set theory is just a fancy way of defining the process of understanding how different data relate to each other.

I’m sure you’ve seen symmetric Venn diagrams where shapes of the same size are used. These shapes can also be referred to as Venn diagram sets.

The most basic type of Venn diagram consists of two circles, and each represents a unique characteristic. The overlapping region or where sets overlap is known as the intersection of two.

Let’s explore Venn diagram symbols used in set theory in detail:

Intersection (∩)

Where shapes or sets have overlapping regions indicate the elements or characteristics shared by those sets.

In the example below, both A and B are sets while their overlap, also known as the intersect, is referred to as A∩B.

venn diagram intersection


Union (U)

When a Venn diagram is complete, it can also be referred to as a union of sets represented by the ∪ symbol, or in this case, A∪B.

venn diagram union


Complement (Xc)

A complement refers to all elements not included in sets.

This is called the complement of a set and is referred to as Xc. For example, the complement of set A would be Ac.

What does this mean exactly?

Imagine a collection of multiple sets known as U. In this situation, the complement of A is everything in U, except for the elements in set A.

venn diagram complement


A practical application of Venn diagrams using set theory

Now I’m sure you’re wondering why any of this matters.

After all, you could input your data, and be on your merry way.

But in a real-world setting, a Venn diagram helps reveal relationships and intersections between different categories of data. This allows it to solve complex problems in fields like computer science and mathematics.

Here’s how set theory can be useful.

  • Better organization and presentation of complex data
  • Visualization of logical relationships between sets
  • Identification of patterns to arrive at conclusions

Let’s look at a real-world marketing and customer segmentation example.

Pretend a clothing retailer wants to know what type of clothing to invest in according to its three main segments – baby boomers, millennials, and Gen Zers.

Here’s what their results might look like after they conduct a survey:

customer preference study table

While this method does work, it’s not the best way to showcase casual wear as a clear winner.

In such scenarios, a Venn diagram can visually display all the combinations, making it easy to understand where to invest.

The results can also be interpreted in terms of intersects as seen below.

three circle venn diagram

With a Venn diagram, the team can have a clearer picture of the market and explore all possibilities easily.

How to use Venn diagram symbols

When it comes to using Venn diagram symbols, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Note: These tips apply to everyone creating a Venn, whether they be researchers or the average user wanting a visual communication asset in their reports or presentations.

Define Your Goal

Before you even create, define the purpose and expected outcome.

Understanding your goal will provide a solid foundation for the effective use of symbols.

Carefully select your data

Complex systems require careful analysis and observation so don’t rush the samples you’ll include to understand the relationships you aim to represent.

Choose Your Venn Diagram

With the groundwork complete, it’s time to determine the style. Head over to Venngage’s Venn diagram templates library to see the options available.


First thing first. Start by familiarizing yourself with the sets or categories represented.

Next, analyze overlapping areas and pay close attention to intersections to identify items that share common attributes between the sets.

After this, make sure to also explore the sections that do not overlap.

By focusing on these regions, you can identify the distinct characteristics or features exclusive to a particular category.

Last but not least, take note of the relative sizes of the sets. Some Venn diagrams include different sizes of each set to provide insights into the prevalence or frequency of certain attributes among different groups.

food venn diagram

Venn diagram examples

There are several types of Venn diagrams, with each having its own specific configuration and purpose.

Let’s explore them in the following examples:

Two-circle Venn diagram

A two-circle Venn is a graphical representation that uses two overlapping shapes to display relationships between two sets.

Here’s an example:

two circle venn diagram

Three-circle Venn diagram

The three-set Venn or three-circle diagram allows for a more complex analysis compared to the two-circle diagram by comparing three different sets.

3 circle venn diagram

Multi-set Venn diagram

This type of Venn involves more than three sets or categories.

In this example, there are four circles representing different sets and their intersections.


This five-circle Venn allows for a more comprehensive analysis compared to those with fewer shapes.


How to make a Venn diagram with Venngage

Not long ago, most people had to rely on drawing by hand or Office Suite to create Venn diagrams.

And although the latter allows for a mechanical representation of Venn diagrams, tools like Word and PowerPoint aren’t the best way to create them as they provide limited customization options.

Moreover, you’ll only find basic shapes and have a hard time manipulating them or collaborating as a team.

This shouldn’t be a surprise really.

Office suite programs like PowerPoint are designed to help you create presentations, while Word is great for documents. Neither is a specialized diagramming tool.

If you really want to learn how to use Office Suite or Google Docs to make Venn diagrams, check out these posts:

But if you want a better, and more efficient solution, look no further than Venngage.

Step 1 – Create a new document

In the Venngage dashboard, select ‘Create’ and click ‘Create New’.


This should take you to a template page where you can choose from many Venn diagram templates.

Step 2 – Select a Venn diagram template

Browse Venngage’s library for inspiration or search for a template if you know exactly what you’re looking for.

You’ll find a wide variety of Venn diagrams from the basic two-circle Venn to creative designs like an ice-cream cone-shaped Venn.

venn diagram template select

Step 3 – Customize the data and layout

Venngage’s editor lets you replace text, change colors, fonts, and add icons and illustrations to bring your Venn to life.

venn diagram edit in venngage

Step 4 – Save and export

Once you’re finished, you can export it as a PDF or JPEG file.

venngage download venn diagram

Quick note: You can always share your design for free but you’ll need to upgrade to a Business account to download your design. This also gives you access to My Brand Kit — the one-click branding kit that lets you upload your logo and apply brand colors and fonts to any design.

Venn diagram symbols glossary

In this section, I’ve included a comprehensive list of Venn diagram symbols to help you interpret and analyze the relationships between data more effectively

Set – collection of similar data or items

A set is a group or collection of distinct objects or elements, such as numbers, letters, or shapes, that are grouped together based on a common characteristic or property.

venn diagram set definition


Union – combination of every item in all sets

The union of two or more sets is a new set that contains all the unique elements from the individual sets, combining them into a single set.

venn diagram union


Intersect – items that overlap multiple sets

The intersection of two or more sets is the set of elements that are common to all the sets, representing the shared characteristics or properties among the sets.

venn diagram intersection


Relative complement – data present in one set but not the other

Also known as the set difference, represents all elements that belong to one set, but not another. It is denoted using symbols such as “A – B”, where A and B are sets.

In this example, the relative complement of set B in relation to set A includes all elements present in set A but not in set B.

venn diagram symbols relative complement


Absolute complement – everything not present in a set

The absolute complement refers to the set of elements that do not belong to a particular set or group being considered.

It is represented by a region outside the boundaries of the diagram. This helps us understand the relationship between the set and everything else outside of it.

venn diagram complement


Disjoint set – a set with no common elements with another set

Disjoint sets are sets with no common elements in common. They are also referred to as mutually exclusive sets.

When two or more sets in a Venn diagram are disjoint, it means their intersection is an empty set (∅), indicating that they do not share any elements. The circles representing these sets in the Venn diagram will not overlap and will be completely separate from each other.

disjoint sets venn diagram


Symmetric difference of two sets – all data not present at the intersect

The symmetric difference between two sets represents elements that are unique to each set and are not shared between them.

It is the combination of the elements that are present in one set but not in the other set.

In terms of Venn diagram symbols, the symmetric difference is represented by the region where the two sets do not overlap.

Symmetric difference of two sets venn diagram


Frequently Asked Questions

Is a logic diagram the same as a Venn diagram?

No. A logic diagram represents relationships between logical statements using symbols, whereas a Venn diagram visually represents relationships between sets using overlapping shapes.

What is the difference between Venn diagrams and Euler diagrams?

The main difference between a Venn diagram and an Euler diagram is in visual representations and logical interpretations.

Venn diagrams are used to visualize the intersection and union of sets, as well as to depict inclusion, exclusion, and overlaps. Meanwhile, an Euler diagram, named after Swiss mathematician Leonard Euler, uses closed curves to depict sets or categories.

A logic diagram represents the relationships between logical statements using symbols and logic gates, while a Venn diagram visually represents the relationships between sets using overlapping circles or shapes.

In conclusion: Understand the relationships between ideas or data sets with the power of Venn diagrams

Venn diagrams are versatile tools that help organize information and illustrate relationships.

I’ve reviewed how symbols in Venn diagrams represent different relationships between sets and help us visualize the similarities and differences.

Armed with this knowledge, you’re now ready to engage in a comprehensive exploration of data and patterns.

Want to start creating Venn diagrams in minutes? Check out our Venn diagram templates!