Bar Graph

Create bar graphs quickly and easily with SmartDraw's data-integration or start from a built-in template

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What is a Bar Graph Used For

A bar graph (also known as a bar chart or bar diagram) is a visual tool that uses bars to compare data among categories. A bar graph may run horizontally or vertically. The important thing to know is that the longer the bar, the greater its value.

Bar graphs consist of two axes. On a vertical bar graph, as shown above, the horizontal axis (or x-axis) shows the data categories. In this example, they are years. The vertical axis (or y-axis) is the scale. The colored bars are the data series.

Bar graphs have three key attributes:

  • A bar diagram makes it easy to compare sets of data between different groups at a glance.
  • The graph represents categories on one axis and a discrete value in the other. The goal is to show the relationship between the two axes.
  • Bar charts can also show big changes in data over time.
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Basic Bar Graph example
Bar Graph vs Line Graph

Bar Graph vs Line Graph

Bar graphs display data in a way that is similar to line graphs. Line graphs are useful for displaying smaller changes in a trend over time. Bar graphs are better for comparing larger changes or differences in data among groups.

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When to Use a Bar Graph

Bar graphs are an effective way to compare items between different groups. This bar graph shows a comparison of numbers on a quarterly basis over a four-year period of time. Users of this chart can compare the data by quarter on a year-over-year trend, and also see how the annual sales are distributed throughout each year.

Bar graphs are an extremely effective visual to use in presentations and reports. They are popular because they allow the reader to recognize patterns or trends far more easily than looking at a table of numerical data.

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Bar Graph Variations

Types of Bar Graphs

When presenting data visually, there are several different styles of bar graphs to consider.

Vertical bar chart
Vertical Bar Graph

The most common type of bar graph is the vertical bar graph. It is very useful when presenting a series of data over time.

One disadvantage of vertical bar graphs is that they don't leave much room at the bottom of the chart if long labels are required.

Horizontal bar chart
Horizontal Bar Graph

Converting the vertical data to a horizontal bar chart solves this problem. There is plenty of room for the long label along the vertical axis, as shown below.

Stacked bar chart
Stacked Bar Graph

The stacked bar graph is a visual that can convey a lot of information.

Make sure that you select the type of graph that best presents the data you want to emphasize.

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How to Create a Bar Graph

Step one is making sure you have data formatted the correct way for a bar graph.

In the Insert tab in SmartDraw, click on Graph and choose a type of Bar Graph.

Choose your data file to import and SmartDraw will automatically generate your bar graph.

Once imported, you can easily change the title, legend placement and even the quickly change the graph type using the Edit Graph options or just double-click on your imported chart.

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Choose your graph type Generate bar graph from data

More Bar Graph Information

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