Bar graphs/charts provide a visual presentation of categorical data. Categorical data is a grouping of data into discrete groups, such as months of the year, age group, shoe sizes, and animals. These categories are usually qualitative. In a column (vertical) bar chart, categories appear along the horizontal axis and the height of the bar corresponds to the value of each category.
Bar charts have a discrete domain of categories, and are usually scaled so that all the data can fit on the chart. When there is no natural ordering of the categories being compared, bars on the chart may be arranged in any order. Bar charts arranged from highest to lowest incidence are called Pareto charts.
Bar graphs can also be used for more complex comparisons of data with grouped (or "clustered") bar charts, and stacked bar charts.
In grouped (clustered) bar charts, for each categorical group there are two or more bars color-coded to represent a particular grouping. For example, a business owner with two stores might make a grouped bar chart with different colored bars to represent each store: the horizontal axis would show the months of the year and the vertical axis would show revenue.
Alternatively, a stacked bar chart stacks bars on top of each other so that the height of the resulting stack shows the combined result. Stacked bar charts are not suited to data sets having both positive and negative values.
Grouped bar charts usually present the information in the same order in each grouping. Stacked bar charts present the information in the same sequence on each bar.