What is a Column Chart?

A column chart is a type of bar chart that uses horizontal bars with proportional lengths to compare data among categories.  The X-axis represents the different categories and the Y-Axis has a scale and indicates the units of measurement.

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

View more examples of column 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. 

  • Column chart – A graph with vertical bars.

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

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

When to Use a Column Chart

Use a column chart when the number of values or categories you're comparing is small (not more than 12).

They are also recommended for displaying data sets with negative values instead of bar charts, as people tend to associate negative values with a downward direction.

How to Create a Column Chart

You can make a column chart in 5 easy steps:

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

Best Practices for Creating Column Charts

  • Label the axes - Labeling the axes gives your viewer context.
  • Add value labels on columns for easy reading.
  • Start y-axis at zero.
  • Avoid 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.