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Know your problem
Know your data
Visualise your data
Work with your chart
Check yourself
20. Bar Chart - Summary


Congratulations! You’ve completed all the exercises in this section!

It’s time for a quick review of bar charts. Remember, a bar chart is used to visualize the distribution of a categorical variable.

Example Graph

When you’re building a bar chart, pay attention to these best practices:

  • Always start your y-axis at 0. Otherwise, readers may draw the wrong conclusions about your story.
  • If your categories are ordinal, arrange the bars in logical order. This will highlight the story you’re telling.
  • Usually, one color should be used for all the bars in a bar chart. If you want to use another color (or colors) to highlight certain categories, go ahead! But don’t use multiple colors in your bars just to be decorative – it distracts from the data.
  • You don’t need to include vertical grid lines in most bar charts. Remove them to reduce clutter.
  • It’s okay to leave a space between the bars, but these spaces have no meaning. The width of the bars is meaningless, too.

No matter what chart type you’re using, it’s always good to:

  • Choose a descriptive title for your chart,
  • Avoid excessively bright colors. Choose colors that are visually pleasing.

In the next part, we’ll discover a chart that can visualize the distribution of numerical variables.