Bar Graph: Definition, Types & Examples

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  • 0:01 Definition of Bar Graph
  • 0:47 Types of Bar Graphs
  • 2:45 How to Create a Bar Graph
  • 3:16 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Beddoe

Jennifer has an MS in Chemistry and a BS in Biological Sciences.

A bar graph is a mathematical representation of data. In this lesson, you will learn the definition of a bar graph, including how to recognize the different types of bar graphs. You will also learn how to create bar graphs.

Definition of a Bar graph

A bar graph is a chart that uses bars to show comparisons between categories of data. The bars can be either horizontal or vertical. Bar graphs with vertical bars are sometimes called vertical bar graphs. A bar graph will have two axes. One axis will describe the types of categories being compared, and the other will have numerical values that represent the values of the data. It does not matter which axis is which, but it will determine what bar graph is shown. If the descriptions are on the horizontal axis, the bars will be oriented vertically, and if the values are along the horizontal axis, the bars will be oriented horizontally.

Types of Bar Graphs

There are many different types of bar graphs. They are not always interchangeable. Each type will work best with a different type of comparison. The comparison you want to make will help determine which type of bar graph to use. First we'll discuss some simple bar graphs.

A simple vertical bar graph is best when you have to compare between two or more independent variables. Each variable will relate to a fixed value. The values are positive and therefore, can be fixed to the horizontal value.

Vertical bar graph

If your data has negative and positive values but is still a comparison between two or more fixed independent variables, it is best suited for a horizontal bar graph. The vertical axis can be oriented in the middle of the horizontal axis, allowing for negative and positive values to be represented.

Horizontal bar graph

A range bar graph represents a range of data for each independent variable. Temperature ranges or price ranges are common sets of data for range graphs. Unlike the above graphs, the data do not start from a common zero point but begin at a low number for that particular point's range of data. A range bar graph can be either horizontal or vertical.

Range bar graph

The difference between a histogram and a simple bar graph is that in a histogram, each bar represents a range of dependent variables instead of just one data point.


Next we'll go over a few complex bar graphs.

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