What is a Stacked Bar Chart?

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  • 0:02 What Is a Stacked Bar Chart?
  • 0:29 Example 1
  • 1:47 Example 2
  • 2:42 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Susan Fenner

Susan has an MBA in Management from the University of North Alabama. She teaches online and campus-based Business courses.

A stacked bar chart is a visual representation of data. In this lesson, you will learn how to recognize stacked bar charts and explore examples of their practical uses. A brief quiz is included to allow you to test your understanding.

What Is a Stacked Bar Chart?

A stacked bar chart, also known as a stacked bar graph, is a graph that is used to break down and compare parts of a whole. Each bar in the chart represents a whole, and segments in the bar represent different parts or categories of that whole. Different colors are used to illustrate the different categories in the bar.

Now, let's take a look at two examples to get a better grasp of stacked bar charts.

Example 1

Let's say you have been asked to create a graph to illustrate the demographics of the marching band at your local high school. Specifically, you should show how many students play each of the following four instruments: drums, trombone, trumpet, and tuba. You need to show how many of the musicians are male and how many are female for each instrument. You could create two bar charts, one for the boys and one for the girls, or you could combine the information into a stacked bar chart. Let's take a look at what that might look like.

Stacked Bar Chart Example One
Stacked Bar Chart Example One

In this chart, the two categories for each bar are 'boys' and 'girls.' The key tells you the red represents the girls in the band, and the blue represents the boys.

We can see that there are three drummers, total, in this marching band. That is the 'whole' illustrated by the first bar. Because this is a stacked bar chart, we can also see that two of the drummers are male and one is a female.

Next we move to the bar representing the trombone players. There are eight trombone players in the band. Five of them are male and three are female.

Let's look at the trumpet players. How many trumpet players are in the band? If you said seven, you are correct. This time, though, the girls outnumber the boys. Three of the trumpet players are boys and four are girls.

Finally, we look at the tuba players. There are two tuba players in the band, one boy and one girl.

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