Column Charts

A column chart, or vertical bar chart, is used to compare values by category and displays the values using vertical bars. One axis displays the categories while the other axis displays a scale of values or numerical metrics.

Column Chart
Paired Column Chart
Stacked Column Chart
Stacked Column 100% Chart


  • The width of the columns should be wider than the space between the columns.
  • Always label your axes and include the units for the y-axis.
  • On the y-axis choose increments that are easy to follow.
  • Display negative values below the zero baseline.
  • Always include a zero baseline on the y-axis. A column graph that doesn't include a zero baseline is misleading.
  • The zero baseline should be thicker than the rest of the grid lines.
  • You can use a lighter shade of colors for projections.


  • Don't truncate the columns or a single column. Truncation misrepresents the actual value of each column.
  • Don't use shadows on the columns. They can be distracting and misleading.
  • Don't use 3-D columns. They are misleading because it is hard for the viewer to determine the top of the bar.