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Bar Charts

Bar charts are similar to column charts except that the bars extend horizontally instead of vertically. Otherwise, they work the same way. However, this orientation change causes people to look at them differently. Although the difference is subtle, it can get you into trouble if you're not careful. Bar charts are not good for showing changes across time because most people spatially perceive time as moving from left to right. Because a bar chart orders the categories up and down, it typically causes the reader confusion when a time-based scale is used for categories. Many people in financial organizations, for example, are aware that using a time-based scale on the vertical category axis of a bar chart will reduce the credibility of the presentation.

The subtypes available for bar charts are the same as those for column charts, except that there is no equivalent to the 3-D Column chart. Bar charts are available in clustered, stacked, and 100% stacked formats, and each of those types are also available with a 3-D visual effect. Figure 12.4 shows an example Clustered Bar chart.


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