Longer Axis Labels: Why Bar Charts Are Better Than Column Charts?
Explore why the Bar chart type may be better suited than the Column chart type for the charts with longer Axis Labels.
Author: Geetesh Bajaj
Product/Version: Microsoft PowerPoint (all versions)
The similarity between a Bar Chart and a Column Chart is that both display the same data using rectangular bars. The length of these bars is proportional to the data value. Also, both are used to compare two or more values. So what is the difference? The difference lies in their orientation -- and henceforth the perspective with which we humans comprehend the data.
A Bar Chart is oriented horizontally and a
Column Chart is oriented vertically (see our
Column or Bar Chart? tutorial). This small variance can make
a lot of difference depending upon how large your chart data is, or how lengthy your Category Axis Labels are. To understand this further,
look at Figure 1, below -- notice that the Axis Labels
are too long and even when rotated, you will see that many of the individual Axis Labels have become truncated.
Figure 1: Longer axis labels get truncated within a Column chart
This sort of problem is typical with Column Charts that
use a single Series -- with a single series, each column needs a separate Axis Label -- that's not the case with Column Charts that have more
than one Series, as shown in Figure 2, below (compare with Figure 1).
Figure 2: Multiple Series Column charts have no problems with longer Axis Labels
So now you must ponder if the Column Chart type is indeed the best option to display the data you saw in Figure 1? You
could experiment with the Bar Chart type -- Figure 3 below shows the same data now displayed within a Bar Chart.
Figure 3: This Bar Chart is better, but still not ideal
Yes, the Axis Labels now show up better, but they are still a little truncated. The solution is easy -- you can just move the Chart Legend below the chart, and the extra space available now ensures that no Axis Labels are now truncated (see Figure 4).
Figure 4: You can now see all the Axis Labels
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