Guide to the column chart visualization

Use a column chart to display vertical categorical data.

Updated over a week ago

A column chart is similar to a bar chart, but the bars are plotted vertically. Data is represented by vertical rectangular bars with lengths proportional to the values that they represent. The column chart can show up to 5 series* at one time.

The column chart's discrete data is categorical data and answers the question of "how many?" in each category.

column chart

When to use a column chart

A column chart can be used to facilitate all comparison-based analysis.

Column charts are suitable when the number of categories is higher than 4 and lower than 12.

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, we recommend using the column chart when you have negative values in your data set.

Example uses of a column chart

A typical use-case for a column chart is comparing values (i.e. a monetary value) over a period of time.

If you want to keep track of MRR added every month, the column chart could be a great alternative as you can see at a glance if March was a better month than February. Maybe you had a special campaign to drive sales in January and you want to know if it paid off?

If your data labels aren't long, you could use column charts in the exact same cases that you would use a bar chart.

You can also use a column chart to plot up to three series of data and compare them against each other. As an example, you could track the MRR added every month and show multiple years of data.

Anatomy of the column chart

Anatomy of the column chart

The column chart is a diagram in which the numerical values of the different variables are represented by the height of bars of equal width. The bars are drawn vertically (along the y-axis) whilst the data labels that describe them are situated on the x-axis.

Tips for creating column charts

Decide on a clear title. The title should be a brief description of the data that you want to show.

Use the column chart for a maximum of 10–12 data sets. When the number of data sets is larger than that, using a column chart is probably not the best way forward.

Use the Decimal Places feature to manually set the precision of numbers in your widgets, so that you can show the level of detail appropriate for your dashboard.

If needed, you can also override our automatic settings for what abbreviation and unit to show. Abbreviation, Decimal Places and Unit are part of the "Fine-tune" settings.

  • Abbreviation: Numbers can be shown in their raw state, or as Thousands (K), Millions (M), or Billions (B).

  • Unit: Allows you to manually enter any prefix or suffix up to 3 characters long. This means if you’d prefer to display your currency differently to our default option you now can. As examples you might want Swedish Krona to show as 100 Kr instead of SEK 100, or New Zealand Dollars to just have the $.

*Some older data sources will only allow up 3 series at any one time.

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