What is a Bar Chart?

A bar chart is a type of graph with rectangular bars used to compare different items, or show a comparison over time.  Bar charts are mostly used to display and compare discrete categories of data.

 

Create a Bar Chart

 

 

 

 

When to use a bar chart

A bar graph is useful for looking at a set of data and making comparisons of different categories or track changes over time. 

Best Practices to create a bar chart

There are some best practice rules that you should apply:

  • Start the Y axis at zero. Sometimes bars will look similar and the only way to show the diffeence will be by changing the y axis. Double think before you do it. If the real difference is not that big, perhaps it’s better to search for differences elsewhere and not mislead your reader.
  • Use consistent colors. Avoid making arainbow-chart”. Use a single color or shades of that color. This will give you an opportunity to highlight a particular bar. Read more tips on how to better use colors here.
  • Label axes. You are the one who knows what the chart is about. Not your audience, not yet. Don’t forget to label your axes, so people know if you are comparing thousands or millions of dollars. Being consistent with labelling axes will build trust in you.
  • Display values. It’s easier to compare length, but hard to name the exact value just by reading from the grid. Your charts will be very clear if you display the value each bar represents. It will also give you an opportunity to take the grid off and make the chart more visually clean.

 

How to create a Bar Chart [video]

 

Visually striking ways to present your data

Stacked Bars

Shows the size of a subcategory in relation to the total amount.

Grouped Bars

Compares the variables of a group by displaying them side-by-side.

Radial Bars
Presents discreate numerical values plotted in a circular axis.
Motley Fool Bar Chart
politico bar chart
Sportsmatrix

 

Make a chart, it’s free!

 

Infogram charts are used in great organizations

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