What’s a Bar Chart?

Bar Charts are visual graphics made of rectangular columns proportional in hight or length to the values they represent. That being said, smaller and shorter bars represent smaller numbers and taller and longer bars represent bigger numbers. On one axis bars compare categories, while on the other they represent values.

When to Use a Bar Chart

Bar Charts are used to show data that can only be certain values, for example to show change over time (monthly business sales or earnings over a year period), to compare values of different categories (products sales for different sales force lines) and to compare parts of a whole (percent distribution of Netflix rentals across genres).

Tips for Creating Bar Charts

  1. Use the same color for all bars (be consistent), as bars compare the same element over time. If needed, use an accent color to highlight a significant data point.
  2. Keep bars not so close between categories. The space between bars should be around 50% of the bar width.
  3. Use the Right Y-Axis Height so that the bars take up approximately two-thirds of the y-axis’ lenght.


This is particularly true when to large amounts of data need to be presented easily and clearly. For that, these slides facilitate including data in PowerPoint tables that automatically and quickly update and outline complex tables into memorable charts.