What is a Bar Graph?

A bar graph is a chart that uses bars with proportional lengths to compare data among categories. The bars can be plotted vertically (column chart) or horizontally (bar chart).

Bar graphs are useful when comparing different categories of data, showing trends or change over time.

View more examples of bar charts.

Infogram is a free online chart maker that offers the most widely used bar chart types (bar chart, column chart, radial chart, stacked bar, grouped bar chart, progress bar). Here’s how they differ:

  • Bar chart – A graph with horizontal bars. Helpful if you have many different categories or categories with long labels, and you need space to display them.

  • Column chart – A graph with vertical bars.

  • Radial chart - A radial chart uses a polar coordinate system to represent values. The way to decode the values is by angle rather than length.

  • Stacked bar chart- When a bar is split into several sections, each one representing a different category.

  • Grouped bar chart- A chart that helps compare groups of categories. Each separate bar represents a sub-group.

  • Progress Bar Chart - A visual representation of progress on a one-dimensional axis. It works well for KPI visualizations.  

When to Use a Bar Graph

Bar graphs are one of the most commonly used chart types because they are easy to make and interpret.

Use bar charts to compare values when you have a large number of categories or long category labels. That way your chart will be easier to understand at a glance.

How to Create a Bar Graph

You can make a bar graph in 5 easy steps:

  1. Join Infogram to make your own bar graph.
  2. Select a bar graph type (bar, column, stacked, grouped, radial and progress).
  3. Upload or copy and paste your data.
  4. Customize labels, colors, and fonts.
  5. Download your bar graph or embed on your website.

Best Practices for Creating Bar Charts

  • Label the axes - Labeling the axes gives your viewer context.
  • Put value labels on bars for easy reading.
  • Avoid using 3D perspective or shadows as it makes your data difficult to see.
  • Use one single color or varying shades of the same color. You can also highlight one column in particular if that is the main message you want to get across.

Have more questions about the appropriate type of chart to use? Check out this article.