How to Create a Bar Chart

Table of Contents

What is a Bar Chart

Bar charts are possibly the most popular and frequently used types of charts. They may show vertical columns or horizontal bars.

Unlike the Stacked Bars or Range Bars, in single-series Bars or multi-series Grouped Bars all vertical columns start from the X horizontal axis, while all horizontal bars start from the vertical Y axis. We’ll always refer to this type of Bars when we simply say Bar Charts, with no specifics. And we will cover only this kind of chart types in this article, the simple Bars you set with one or more Bar chart selections.

Did You KnowThe name of Bar Charts may be confusing, as that’s a generic term for charts with both vertical or horizontal …bars! This is how this terminology evolved in data visualization arena…

A Column Chart is always with vertical bars, no possible confusion here. Except that Wikipedia confuses Column Charts with  …Line Charts: “A vertical bar chart is sometimes called a line graph“. (Do not believe them!)

But when you read about Bar Charts, think about any vertical or horizontal bars. Unless we specifically mention “horizontal Bar Charts”.

Vertical columns vary in height only, while horizontal bars vary in width. Grouped Bars are displayed side-by-side, with no gaps between for the same group. You may mix Grouped with Stacked bars for interesting views.

Like most other chart types, Bar charts can be single or multi-color. Single-series Bar charts are by default single-color, while multi-series Grouped Bar charts get by default one palette color for each series. Monochrome single-series Bars can also use up/down colors for positive/negative colors. Or you may turn everything in gray, with no colors at all, with one mouse button click.

Bars can be displayed with a variety of drawing styles, for 2D or 3D, that can make them appear as cylinders or bricks, semi-transparent or translucent etc. The chart themes may add up with shadows and other effects.

Steps to Create a Bar Chart

Start Visual Xtractor or Data Xtractor. Connect to a database. Create or design a SQL query. Run the query and check the results.

  1. Display and enable the Chart query builder.
  2. Select one or more numeric columns as Bar ChartsBar.
  3. Show either horizontal bars or vertical columns.
  4. Select an eventual Label, for legend items and axis labels.

Bar Chart Demo Query

There are many generated chart queries with bars under the Queries > Demo Queries > Charts folder. Click on the “add demo queries” command link, to make sure none is missing.

The 3D Column Chart with Negative Values is just one example. Its initial view is presented as customized query, here is a very simple Column Chart, not styled yet, as our starting point for a single-series Bar Chart:

Simple Bar Chart

Grouped Bar Chart Demo Queries

More than one Bar selection creates a Grouped Bar Chart, with side-by-side bars within a group. The Grouped Bar Chart demo query presents such an example, but with heavily styled bars, as they will look as lollipops. Here is a more simple easily styled sample:

Grouped Bar Chart

Multi-series Grouped Bar Charts can be split into separate single-series Bar Charts with the Split toolbar button. Multiple Horizontal Bars demo query – under the Multiple Charts folder – does this. The view is included in the album at the beginning of this article.

Customize your Bar Chart

  1. Select a different drawing style (like Light to Dark).
  2. Show slated X axis labels.
  3. Show as single-color, but with up/down colors, to highlight the negatives.
  4. Show the 3D view.
  5. Hide some bars, with clicks on the related legend items.
  6. You may continue and switch from vertical columns to horizontal bars.
  7. Show as lollipops or with no gaps between.
  8. Show data labels and markers.

Custom Bar Chart


  • Creating Bar Charts in Data Xtractor or Visual Xtractor is fast and trivial: set one or more numeric columns as Bar, with one optional Label.
  • Switch between vertical columns and horizontal bars.
  • Show all bars as lollipops or with no gaps between.
  • Split multi-series Grouped Bar Charts into separate small single-series Bar Charts.
  • All builtin powerful features of these chart type are common to most other charts: filtering series through the legend items, interactivity, monochrome or grayscale colors, rich axis and data label selections etc.
  • Switch to another builtin chart theme, or customize your own, for any possible color or other styles.