Creating & Interpreting Histograms: Process & Examples

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  • 1:07 Creating a Histogram
  • 3:21 Interpreting a Histogram
  • 4:38 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Karen Schweitzer
Creating histograms can help you easily identify and interpret data. This lesson will give you several examples to better understand histograms and how to create them.


Julianne is working on a transportation project for her college engineering class. She wants to first conduct research to find out what types of transportation the local community currently uses. Julianne creates and distributes a survey to a sample of 50 people.

Out of the 50 people surveyed, 5 people chose the bus, 8 people chose their personal car, 12 people chose carpool, 8 people chose walking, 5 people chose bike, 3 people chose scooter, 2 people chose motorcycle, and 7 people chose train.

Julianne would like to display this information in a visual way that shows the frequency with which each method of transportation was chosen. Julianne can use a histogram to display her data. A histogram is a graphical representation of the distribution of data. Let's look at how Julianne can create a histogram.

Creating a Histogram

Histograms are very similar to bar graphs. Histograms show us how frequently certain numbers appear in a set of data.

You can use histograms to show the popularity, or modes, of certain types of data. To create a histogram, first put the type of data on the horizontal axis. In this case, we can put the different types of transportation on the horizontal axis. The vertical axis represents the frequency of each choice. The most popular choice, carpool, was selected by 12 people. Therefore, our tallest bar is 12 units high. From this histogram, we can see the most popular choice and the least popular choice.


Let's look at a histogram that deals more with numbers, rather than categories. Julianne wants to know how much time each person spends on each type of transportation. She realizes that some people use different types of transportation during the day. Julianne asks the same 50 people how many hours they spend on each type of transportation. After collecting the data, Julianne groups the information by types of transportation. Here is the data set for the number of hours each person spends riding the bus each week:

0, 5, 2, 3, 12, 10, 1, 1, 0, 4, 5, 2, 1, 0, 3, 4, 7, 1, 10, 12, 9, 7, 8, 1, 0, 2, 5, 7, 3, 5, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, 2, 3, 4, 10, 1, 0, 3, 4, 2, 5, 7, 7, 9, 10, 6

Wow, that's a lot of numbers. It's a little too much to take in. If we just try to sit here and look at these numbers, we may be left with a headache but not much else. We can take these numbers and place them into a histogram to make the numbers easier to understand.


Much better! The numbers at the bottom, along the horizontal axis, are the actual hours spent on a bus. The numbers at the side, along the vertical axis, are the number of times the hours appeared in the data set.

Take 10 hours as an example. The bar above the 10 goes up to match the number 4 on the vertical axis. That means that 4 people said they ride the bus 10 hours a week. If you look at our original data set, you will see that 10 appears four times.

Interpreting a Histogram


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