A chart is used to display data and further explore a topic where tabular data will not adequately demonstrate meaningful relationships or patterns between data points. Bar charts and column charts are the most commonly used charts to track changes over time between different groups.
The Difference Between Bar Chart and Column Chart
Both the Bar and the Column charts display data using rectangular bars where the length of the bar is proportional to the data value. Both charts compare two or more values. However, the difference lies in their orientation. A bar chart is oriented horizontally, whereas a column chart is oriented vertically. Although alike, they cannot always be used interchangeably because of the difference in their orientation.
Figure: Bar chart
Figure: Column chart
When to Use Bar Chart vs. Column Chart
Bar charts are suitable for displaying long data labels.
Column charts have limited space in the category axis. So, when your data labels are long, the category axis may look cluttered.
You can reduce clutter by either slanting or rotating the labels.
However, using the bar chart will significantly improve the readability of your chart.
Bar charts are good for displaying a large number of data sets on the category axis.
The column chart is a good fit for a maximum of 10-12 data sets. However, using a column chart is not the best way forward when large numbers of data sets are needed.
A bar chart with the data sets placed one below the other would be a better choice in this case as it makes optimum use of space.
Column charts are suitable for displaying data sets with negative values.
In a bar chart, negative values are displayed as bars on the left.
Therefore, use the column chart when you have negative values in your data set.
In conclusion, while the column chart is helpful to facilitate all comparison-based analysis, it is better to use the bar chart when your data labels are long, or you have too many data sets to display.
Keep watching this space for more insights on charting best practices.
Happy Charting till next time 🙂