Choosing the right Chart type: Bar Chart vs Column Chart

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Bar chart and Column chart display the data using rectangular bars, which is mainly useful in comparison of data.

A bar chart is oriented Horizontally and Column chart is oriented Vertically.

There are three reasons to choose chart from Bar chart and Column chart.

1. Use Bar chart if you have 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 between words by either slanting or rotating the labels.

However, if you use the Bar chart, it will improve the readability of your chart manifold.

2. 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.

3. Column charts are good for displaying data sets with negative values:

In a Bar chart negative values are displayed as bars on the left.

However, we associate negative values more with downward direction (as used by the Column chart) than leftward (as used by the Bar chart).

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.

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