Bar Graph

Bar graphs are the pictorial representation of data (generally grouped), in the form of vertical or horizontal rectangular bars, where the length of bars are proportional to the measure of data. They are also known as bar charts. Bar graphs are one of the means of data handling in statistics.

The collection, presentation, analysis, organization, and interpretation of observations of data are known as statistics. The statistical data can be represented by various methods such as tables, bar graphs, pie charts, histograms, frequency polygons, etc. In this article, let us discuss what is a bar chart, different types of bar graphs, uses, and solved examples.

Table of Contents:

Bar Graph Definition

The pictorial representation of a grouped data, in the form of vertical or horizontal rectangular bars, where the lengths of the bars are equivalent to the measure of data, are known as bar graphs or bar charts.

The bars drawn are of uniform width, and the variable quantity is represented on one of the axes. Also, the measure of the variable is depicted on the other axes. The heights or the lengths of the bars denote the value of the variable, and these graphs are also used to compare certain quantities. The frequency distribution tables can be easily represented using bar charts which simplify the calculations and understanding of data.

The three major attributes of bar graphs are:

  • The bar graph helps to compare the different sets of data among different groups easily.
  • It shows the relationship using two axes, in which the categories on one axis and the discrete values on the other axis.
  • The graph shows the major changes in data over time.

What are Bar Graphs

Types of Bar Charts

The bar graphs can be vertical or horizontal. The primary feature of any bar graph is its length or height. If the length of the bar graph is more, then the values are greater than any given data.

Bar graphs normally show categorical and numeric variables arranged in class intervals. They consist of an axis and a series of labelled horizontal or vertical bars. The bars represent frequencies of distinctive values of a variable or commonly the distinct values themselves. The number of values on the x-axis of a bar graph or the y-axis of a column graph is called the scale.

The types of bar charts are as follows:

  1. Vertical bar chart
  2. Horizontal bar chart

Even though the graph can be plotted using horizontally or vertically, the most usual type of bar graph used is the vertical bar graph. The orientation of the x-axis and y-axis are changed depending on the type of vertical and horizontal bar chart. Apart from the vertical and horizontal bar graph, the two different types of bar charts are:

  • Grouped Bar Graph
  • Stacked Bar Graph

Now, let us discuss the four different types of bar graphs.

Vertical Bar Graphs

When the grouped data are represented vertically in a graph or chart with the help of bars, where the bars denote the measure of data, such graphs are called vertical bar graphs. The data is represented along the y-axis of the graph, and the height of the bars shows the values.

Horizontal Bar Graphs

When the grouped data are represented horizontally in a chart with the help of bars, then such graphs are called horizontal bar graphs, where the bars show the measure of data. The data is depicted here along the x-axis of the graph, and the length of the bars denote the values.

Grouped Bar Graph

The grouped bar graph is also called the clustered bar graph, which is used to represent the discrete value for more than one object that shares the same category. In this type of bar chart, the total number of instances are combined into a single bar. In other words, a grouped bar graph is a type of bar graph in which different sets of data items are compared. Here, a single colour is used to represent the specific series across the set. The grouped bar graph can be represented using both vertical and horizontal bar charts.

Stacked Bar Graph

The stacked bar graph is also called the composite bar chart, which divides the aggregate into different parts. In this type of bar graph, each part can be represented using different colours, which helps to easily identify the different categories. The stacked bar chart requires specific labelling to show the different parts of the bar. In a stacked bar graph, each bar represents the whole and each segment represents the different parts of the whole.

Properties of Bar Graph

Some of the important properties of a bar graph are as follows:

  • All the bars should have a common base.
  • Each column in the bar graph should have equal width.
  • The height of the bar should correspond to the data value.
  • The distance between each bar should be the same.

Uses of Bar Graphs

Bar graphs are used to match things between different groups or to trace changes over time. Yet, when trying to estimate change over time, bar graphs are most suitable when the changes are bigger.

Bar charts possess a discrete domain of divisions and are normally scaled so that all the data can fit on the graph. When there is no regular order of the divisions being matched, bars on the chart may be organized in any order. Bar charts organized from the highest to the lowest number are called Pareto charts.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Bar Chart


  • Bar graph summarises the large set of data in simple visual form.
  • It displays each category of data in the frequency distribution.
  • It clarifies the trend of data better than the table.
  • It helps in estimating the key values at a glance.


  • Sometimes, the bar graph fails to reveal the patterns, cause, effects, etc.
  • It can be easily manipulated to yield fake information.

Difference Between Bar Graph and Histogram

The bar graph and the histogram look similar. But it has an important difference. The major difference between them is that they plot different types of data. In the bar chart, discrete data is plotted, whereas, in the histogram, it plots the continuous data. For instance, if we have different categories of data like types of dog breeds, types of TV programs, the bar chart is best as it compares the things among different groups. For example, if we have continuous data like the weight of the people, the best choice is the histogram.

How to Draw a Bar Graph?

Let us consider an example, we have four different types of pets, such as cat, dog, rabbit, and hamster and the corresponding numbers are 22, 39, 5 and 9 respectively.

In order to visually represent the data using the bar graph, we need to follow the steps given below.

Step 1: First, decide the title of the bar graph.

Step 2: Draw the horizontal axis and vertical axis. (For example, Types of Pets)

Step 3: Now, label the horizontal axis.

Step 4: Write the names on the horizontal axis, such as Cat, Dog, Rabbit, Hamster.

Step 5: Now, label the vertical axis. (For example, Number of Pets)

Step 6: Finalise the scale range for the given data.

Step 7: Finally, draw the bar graph that should represent each category of the pet with their respective numbers.

Bar Graph Examples

To understand the above types of bar graphs, consider the following examples:

Example 1: In a firm of 400 employees, the percentage of monthly salary saved by each employee is given in the following table. Represent it through a bar graph.

Savings (in percentage) Number of Employees(Frequency)
20 105
30 199
40 29
50 73
Total 400

Solution: The given data can be represented as

Bar graph - Vertical

This can also be represented using a horizontal bar graph as follows:

Bar Graph - Horizontal

Example 2: A cosmetic company manufactures 4 different shades of lipstick. The sale for 6 months is shown in the table. Represent it using bar charts.

Month Sales (in units)
Shade 1 Shade 2 Shade 3 Shade 4
January 4500 1600 4400 3245
February 2870 5645 5675 6754
March 3985 8900 9768 7786
April 6855 8976 9008 8965
May 3200 5678 5643 7865
June 3456 4555 2233 6547

Solution: The graph given below depicts the following data

Bar Graph

Example 3: The variation of temperature in a region during a year is given as follows. Depict it through the graph (bar).

Month Temperature
January -6°C
February -3.5°C
March -2.7°C
April 4°C
May 6°C
June 12°C
July 15°C
August 8°C
September 7.9°C
October 6.4°C
November 3.1°C
December -2.5°C<

Solution: As the temperature in the given table has negative values, it is more convenient to represent such data through a horizontal bar graph.

Bar Graph Example

Practice Problem

Question: A school conducted a survey to know the favourite sports of the students. The table below shows the results of this survey.

Name of the Sport Total Number of Students
Cricket 45
Football 53
Basketball 99
Volleyball 44
Chess 66
Table Tennis 22
Badminton 37

From this data,

1. Draw a graph representing the sports and the total number of students.

2. Calculate the range of the graph.

3. Which sport is the most preferred one?

4. Which two sports are almost equally preferred?

5. List the sports in ascending order.

Frequently Asked Questions on Bar Graph

What is meant by a bar graph?

Bar graph (bar chart) is a graph that represents the categorical data using rectangular bars. The bar graph shows the comparison between discrete categories.

What are the different types of bar graphs?

The different types of bar graphs are:
Vertical bar graph
Horizontal bar graph
Grouped bar graph
Stacked bar graph

When is a bar graph used?

The bar graph is used to compare the items between different groups over time. Bar graphs are used to measure the changes over a period of time. When the changes are larger, a bar graph is the best option to represent the data.

When to use a horizontal bar chart?

The horizontal bar graph is the best choice while graphing the nominal variables.

When to use a vertical bar chart?

The vertical bar graph is the most commonly used bar chart, and it is best to use while graphing the ordinal variables.

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