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Bar Graphs

Bar graphs are very useful tools for both scientists and mathematicians. These graphs help us display data in a very easy-to-read manner, allowing us to communicate our findings to the rest of the world. When we look at a bar graph, it''s much easier to see what the data actually means compared to looking at a set of numbers or data points. But how do we create our own bar graphs? Why are these graphs so useful? When should we use them? Let''s find out.

An example of a bar graph

What does a bar graph actually look like?

Let''s assume that we''re trying to compare average temperatures in our city on the same day over a four-year period. If we were to turn this data into a bar graph, we might be left with something that looks like this:

Note that bar graphs can also be horizontal. All we need to do is flip the bars on their side, and we can express data in exactly the same way with the same easy-to-read benefits. Creating horizontal bar charts might be an especially good idea if your category labels are long words or phrases, as this makes it easier to fit everything in neatly.

Why might we choose to use a bar graph?

Bar graphs may be useful in a number of different scenarios. They may be particularly useful when comparing different groups or tracking changes over time. Bar graphs are even handier if we''re measuring changes over time that are significant. We might also say that bar graphs show us the distribution of data points or help us perform comparisons between metric values across different subgroups of data.

Because bar graphs display data in terms of height, we can immediately see "winners" and "losers." A quick glance is all it takes to discover which values are higher, and which values are lower.

What''s the difference between histograms and bar charts?

Bar graphs and histograms may look very similar at first glance -- and in many ways, they are. But there are some important differences that we need to be aware of. First of all, the "bars" in a histogram have no gaps between them. In addition, bar graphs are much more useful when your data is arranged in different categories. On the other hand, histograms are much more useful if your data is continuous. A histogram may have number ranges, while a bar graph may have categories, for example.

Tips for creating the best bar graphs

If we want to create the most efficient bar graphs, we should follow a few easy steps:

First, you should make sure your bars are plotted against a zero-value baseline. This will make it easier for viewers to compare the different bar lengths. It also makes data visualization more accurate.

You should also keep your bars rectangular. Do not alter the bar shape so that the top is rounded or three-dimensional. A two-dimensional, rectangular bar clearly shows the data with perfect alignment.

You might also consider placing your bars in a specific order, such as tall to short or short to tall. This helps viewers immediately visualize which data points are more important.

Topics related to the Bar Graphs

Box and Whisker Plots

Stem-and-Leaf Plots

Line Plots

Flashcards covering the Bar Graphs

6th Grade Math Flashcards

Common Core: 6th Grade Math Flashcards

Practice tests covering the Bar Graphs

MAP 6th Grade Math Practice Tests

6th Grade Math Practice Tests

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If you want to help your student reach for their math goals, Varsity Tutors is here to help. Whether your student needs help creating a bar graph or wants to learn more about histograms, private tutoring can help! Speak with one of our Educational Directors, and we''ll find your student an outstanding math tutor.