When to use the bar or the historgram?

In summary

Bar Charts and Histograms are used for two different purposes. Bar charts measure qualities; histograms measure quantities.

Bar charts should be used to explain how much stuff there is in different categories, and categories are qualitative. So, what do I mean by "categories" or "qualtitiave"? I mean things like Toyota cars, Honda cars. "Toyota" is a quality because "Toyota" is not based on a number. (Explained in detail with bar chart below)

Histograms tell how you how much stuff is associated with numeric ranges (more ) . For instance, imagine a class took a quiz, and you wanted to display how many students scored between a 90-100, and a 80-89, 70-79, 60-69. In this case, the you are measure a numeric quantity like 90-100. We call this quantitative data. Read on to better understand the differences in this two types of charts that look similar but are not interchangeable.

When to use bar charts


It's about "quality"

when to use bar charts
In the example above we talked about "Toyota", "Honda" and "Tesla" as qualitative (i.e. as being categories or qualities)

A Second

example of a Bar Chart

Bar charts are used to show how much "stuff" different categories have. Imagine, for instance, if you ask all of the students in your grade to choose a favorite color. And 40 chose green, 33 chose orange, 25 chose yellow and 15 chose blue. This is not a situation for a histogram (as you'll see if you read onwards). Instead, you should create a bar chart like the one below

example of a bar chart

When to use histograms

What went wrong ?

Imagine you want to display the grades of students in your math class of 20 kids. In our class,; 10 kids got How many kids got A's? If we wanted to show how many students earned A's, how many earned B's, C's, D's and F's, then you want to use..... a Bar chart! Bar Charts are good at showing, as we wrote earlier, how much "stuff" is there. In this case, the "stuff" is A's, then it's B's, C's. An "A" is a category and the technical terms is that an "A" is qualitative. In other words, an A is not a number. It's a group, a category. How many scored between a 70 and 79? On the other hand, if you wanted to depict how many kids got scores in the range of 100-90, 80-89, 70-79, 60-69, then you would use a histogram like Graph 2 below, and each "bar" would represent how many scores are in the intervals. If there were 10 A's, then we would have a 10 for the interval 90-100. These intervals, since they are always based on numbers are known as "quantitative" data, data based on numbers.
Example of a histogram Histogram generated by Meta chart's Histogram maker
Since histograms are based on numeric intervals, the histogram's bars are lumped right next to each other.

What went wrong ?

back to link #1 next to link #2

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