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Column, Bar and Pie Graphs



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Column, Bar and Pie Charts

Column, Bar and Pie Charts are widely used across all fields, for their simplicity and ease of interpretation. Origin supports basic column and bar charts, as well as more complex stacked, grouped and grouped+stacked column and bar charts. Origin supports both 2D and 3D pie charts.

To see more Column, Bar and Pie Charts, go to the Graph Gallery.


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Column and Bar Charts

At their simplest, column and bar charts are among the most basic of plot types. In Origin, a very simple column or bar graph can be created using a single column of X values and a single column of Y values. At each X value, a single Y value is plotted. X values plot on the horizontal scale for a column chart and along the vertical scale for a bar chart. X column values can be text, numeric, date and/or time data, etc. The plotted column or bar length is determined by the Y column value. A gap of pre-determined size separates each bar or column and and bars and columns are the same color, by default (Note that, as with all Origin graph types, a graph is created from a template, using a collection of previously-saved settings. Any existing graph can be modified and the modifications saved to a template for reuse, if so desired).

If multiple Y datasets are selected, then each worksheet row of column/bar values is centered at the associated X value. This creates a basic "grouped" plot and, by default, (a) a gap of pre-determined size separates groups and (b) plot color increments within the members of the group.

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A basic column chart showing (a) no style differentiation of datasets and (b) a gap between datasets.

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A basic grouped column chart showing (a) style differentiation of datasets within groups and (b) a gap between groups of datasets.

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Grouped Column and Bar Charts

In the grouped column plot above, right, each worksheet row contains a single X value (year) and 11 Y values which are the population numbers for each age bracket. A group of Y values exists for each X value and, thus, datasets are grouped by X value (year).

Another way to create a grouped column or bar chart is to use what we term "indexed" data – that is, data in which one or more worksheet X columns provide the grouping information, while, in the simplest case, a single worksheet column contains all Y values.


A basic grouped column/bar chart can be customized in various ways – by editing colors, by adding color gradient fills, by including error bars or data labels or asterisk-bracket objects to signify that significant differences exist between columns or bars. In addition, you can add and customize "tick label tables" to illustrate how data are grouped.

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A column chart with error bars and data labels

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Column chart with error bars and bracket objects

Tick label tables are constructed using the grouping information that you provide in the plotting dialog box. Index data in columns are added to the Group List box and this information is used to draw the graph and to construct the tables. These tables serve both as graph axis labels and as the graph legend. The tables themselves are customizable, using controls in the Axis Dialog box. Show or hide tables, modify table contents, format text display, modify background color and control the display of cell borders.


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Grouped+Stacked Column and Bar Charts

To show more complex relationships, you can group stacked columns as in the following graph in which automobile sales figures for three regions and two auto makes are grouped by month. Creating this graph involves two primary steps:

  1. Select worksheet data, then on the menu, click Plot: Column/Bar/Pie: Stacked Column. A Stacked Column graph is created, with sales data grouped by month. Worksheet data selection for stacked column plot
  2. Click OK to create the graph, then click Format: Plot Properties and set Subgroup Size (in this case, subgroups are "East", "Central" and "West", so size=3), clear the Use incrementing check box and select the Use Subgrouping (in Group tab) for Cumulative check box on the Stack tab, at the layer level of Plot Details.
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Pie Charts

Pie charts are a convenient way to depict relative quantities of two or more groups. Origin supports 2D or 3D pie charts, in either black & white or color and you can convert from one type to another with a few quick adjustments.

To construct a pie chart in Origin, put group information in the worksheet X column and count data into the worksheet Y column. Y values are summed, and the percentage of the total is determined for each group. The pie chart displays the percentage of the total for each group, as a pie section with associated labeling.



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