A chart is used to display data and explore a topic further where data in tabular form will not adequately demonstrate important 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.
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 the charts are used to compare two or more values. However, the difference lies in their orientation. A bar chart is oriented horizontally whereas the column chart is oriented vertically. Although alike, they cannot be always 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 good 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 improve the readability of your chart manifold.
Bar charts are good for displaying 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, when the number of data sets is larger than that, using a column chart is not the best way forward.
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 good 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.
To sum up, while the column chart can be used 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 🙂