Column Chart


Column Chart Column Chart
Table of Contents

A column chart is a type of data visualization in which each category is represented by a rectangle, the height of which is proportional to the numbers depicted. Vertical bar charts are another name for column charts.

What Is A Column Chart?

A column chart is a type of chart that depicts data as a series of rectangular columns, the lengths of which are proportionate to the numbers they represent. The vertical axis depicts the values, while the horizontal axis depicts the categories to which they belong. Values in multiple-series column charts are categorized.

The column chart is extensively used to demonstrate comparisons across categories and, in certain cases, to represent time-based data. A column chart is the most common style of Excel chart, with data series shown using vertical columns. Column charts are useful for displaying change over time since column lengths may be easily compared.


Uses Of Column Chart

  • Data from similar categories are compared.
  • Recognize the change in variable independence throughout time.
  • Compare the contributions of various class components.
  • Contrast negative and positive values.

Popular commercial applications

  • Evaluating the performance of several corporate departments
  • Representing financial and business data
  • To contrast performance vs target-line data
  • Individual contributions for linked groupings are compared.

Exploratory Research Guide

Conducting exploratory research seems tricky but an effective guide can help.

Ocassion Of Using A Column Chart

Ocassion 1: The data reflects the rank of values in order to highlight extreme values

A column chart would be an excellent choice in this situation since it displays columns that increase from smallest on the left to largest on the right on the horizontal axis.

  • Displaying votes ranked by state to see which state did the best.
  • The sales volume of the same home appliances is shown ranked by month to indicate which month sells the most.
  • Displaying average scores ordered by topic to demonstrate which subjects pupils are weak in

Ocassion 2: The chart’s items have short category labels

It is critical to make the category labels under the columns of each column visible and understandable. When the audience becomes confused about the labels of each column, you start losing information and they become lost in your column chart, which is not ideal. In this case, if the category names are extensive and sophisticated, bar charts with long label texts are unrivalled. Otherwise, a column chart with labels presented next to each other from left to right would be ideal.

Ocassion 3: A trendline is required

A trend line is a line on a graph that is related with a data series and indicates a statistical tendency. A trendline does not reflect the data of that data series; rather, it is intended to highlight patterns in your existing data or future data projections. When compared to other charts, a column chart has a distinct benefit in presenting a trendline since the column height naturally varies in the direction that the chart develops. If you intend to employ a trendline, you will undoubtedly discover that trendlines work best with column charts.

Ocassion 4: The chart data contains negative values

A negative number is a real number that is less than zero in mathematics. Negative numbers indicate polar opposites and are frequently used to express the extent of a loss or shortfall. Since we were children, we have been taught that numbers below the horizontal axis are negative integers. In this situation, when comparing data, column charts perform far better if negative values occur.

Best Practices To Make A Column Chart

  • Except when there is a natural order to the data, sort the categories so that the highest category is on the left (e.g., age categories).
  • The y-axis (vertical) axis should be 0 and the column should begin at 0. Otherwise, the height of the bars is deceptive.
  • Use just one color. The use of several hues just serves to distract.
  • Consider eliminating the axes and placing the values at the ends of the columns, or inside the columns, if you want the attention to be on the actual numbers. This is illustrated in the following example. However, if the emphasis is to be on the trends, the axes should be displayed. When the chart is shown online, the values may be viewed by moving the mouse pointer over the columns.
  • The width of the columns should be bigger than the spaces between them, and the gaps should be large enough that the columns can be distinguished, since otherwise the visualization concentrates the viewer’s interest on analyzing the form rather than comparing the height of the columns.

Column Chart V/s Bar Chart

Both bar charts and column charts have more or less the same uses.


  • Both use data in a graphical form for quick and easy understanding
  • Both use rectangular bars of equal width
  • In both cases, the length of the bars are proportional to the represented value
  • Both charts get plotted in a 2-dimensional axis system
  • Both describe discreet variable / data





Visualization / orientation

Bars are vertically oriented

Bars are horizontally oriented

Time series analysis

Possible with column chart

Not possible with bar charts

Type of variable

Nominal variable

Ordinal variables

Real-life example

Comparison of age-ranges, survey reports etc.

Agreement-disagreement scales, before and after responses etc.

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Types Of Column Chart

Single Series Column Chart

It is the most basic type of column chart. Vertical rectangular bars of equal width are drawn against a two-dimensional axis system. This sort of column chart is ideal for comparing numbers from many categories of data.

Grouped/ Clustered Column Chart

Many columns are clustered or organized under a single category in this situation. It can also be mapped against a two-dimensional coordinate system. A clustered column chart is useful for comparing the value of many categories, each of which has multiple sub-categories.

Stacked Column Chart

Vertical bars are separated into sub-parts in stacked column charts. These display the total value of a data item and compare the pieces to the whole. Color distinguishes items piled on top of one another. They display the component elements of each element under consideration, combining diverse data sets to offer a more complete view of the total of changes. They may demonstrate change over time and are especially useful for comparing relative and absolute differences — when the sum of the values is just as relevant as the totals.

A stacked chart is useful for examining changes in, say, expenditure over time across many items or services.

Percentage Column Chart

Percentage column charts are similar to stacked charts, except they display data as a percentage, which means that all of the bars have the same length. They may be used in the same manner as stacked charts are, and they are especially useful for examining relative differences.

Column Chart With Scrolling

A scrolling column chart is the same as a clustered column chart, with the exception that the horizontal or X-axis will always have a scroll beneath it. They are most useful for comparing data across time and doing time series analysis on a large number of data sets. The scroll is used to display a portion of the entire chart at a time. The scroll bar may be used to browse the whole chart.

Advantages Of Column Chart

  • The data is divided into a limited number of distinct categories, each with a single value. Small multiples, cluster column charts, and stacked column charts are best when there are multiple values per category.
  • The purpose is to compare each category’s values.
  • The goal is to make it as easy as possible for the spectator. Column charts are perhaps the finest of all infographics because they draw into our natural understanding of heights, whereas most other data representations take some level of training for the reader to decipher.

Disadvantges Of Column Chart

  • There is a plethora of subcategories. Other representations, such as dot charts or even bubble clouds, donut charts, pie charts, and word clouds, are generally preferable when there are more than 10 data points.
  • The cumulative values of the categories are fascinating to look at. In such cases, pie charts, donut charts, and waterfall charts are preferable.
  • When the values being depicted are tiny counts (less than ten), pictograph column charts and minimum column charts are frequently clearer and more entertaining.
  • The intended audience has little interest. Pictograph variations might be more aesthetically appealing in this instance.
  • The quantities being depicted are rates (e.g., fatalities per thousand), in which case pictograph area and waffle charts are better.
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