Column Chart

Compare data sets and categories against each other with vertical columns

Peter Novosel avatar
Written by Peter Novosel
Updated over a week ago

The Column Chart type is useful for comparing things over time since it's easy to compare column lengths. Bars are displayed vertically, with the X-axis labeled with the categories to be compared and the Y-axis having numerical values representing each category's value. Column charts are sometimes referred to as vertical bar charts.

When should I use a Column Chart?

Column charts are frequently used when a single value for each category needs to be displayed. Groups of clustered columns are also easily compared, typically across a time dimension allowing the viewer to quickly understand changes over time.

See the section Column Chart Examples below to see it in action. They highlight situations where Column chart is the perfect choice to display your data.

Avoid using column charts when you're examining values that add up to a fixed number, as Pie charts really shine for that type of work. You may want to consider a Bar chart if you're displaying a large number of values or groupings - Column chart may not have enough room on the X-Axis to display all of your value labels in a comfortably-readable format.

Configuring Column Chart Saved Views

Configuring a Column chart is easy with the SmartSuite Chart Setting panel. Just follow these easy steps:

  1. Add a new Chart Saved View (see this article to learn how)

  2. Select Chart Type (Column Chart, Stacked Column, or 100% Stacked Column)

  3. Specify the chart's Values

  4. Pick a Group By field (optional)

  5. Reorder items in the legend (optional)

Column Chart Type

Most chart types stand alone - there is only one version of a "Bubble" chart for example - but Column chart is different. There are three display options available for selection:

Column Chart. This is the standard column chart, which represents each series (each specified Value) as its own separate vertical bar.

Stacked Column. This version combines your values on the same vertical bar, color coding each series and "stacking" them (hence the name!) on top of one another.

100% Stacked Column. The 100% stacked column again stacks your values, but represents them as the relative percentage of multiple data series - and the total (cumulative) of each stacked bar is equal to 100%. This option is particularly good at comparing the relative percentage of two values over time.

Specifying Column Chart Values

The Values configuration section allows you to pick which field or fields contain the data you want to display on your chart. You can specify fields that either contain a numeric value (Number, Currency, etc.) or you can pick a text or list-type field (Single Select, Multiple Select, Linked Record and similar) and count the individual values to arrive at a number.

Specifying a "Count" value type will result in the chart drawing one value bar for each counted element. For example, in the following chart, we're counting by "Stage" which is a Single Select field with six options:

When you specify a numeric field, you also select how you want those numbers aggregated. Options include:

  • Sum - returns the sum (add values added together) for the selected field

  • Avg - returns the average of values in the specified field

  • Min - returns the smallest value appearing in the selected field

  • Max - returns the largest value appearing in the selected field

You can click Add New to include additional Values in your chart, allowing you to compare them side by side like this:

If you have a preferable priority of displaying the columns in your chart, you can reorder them via drag-and-drop in the legend:

Group By

Configuring a Group By field gives you the option to cluster values into categories. This is a great way to compare values across time, or see difference across types of elements. In the chart below, we'll apply a "By Year" grouping to a date field to the last chart we configured above:

Note: For Bar and Column Charts, if you do not select a field to group by you will have the option to Sort by Values. This will add an option to be able to sort the values from First to Last or Last to First, and you'll see the chart values reorder as these selections are made.

Configuring Bar Chart Widgets

Column charts are great on their own, but even better on a SmartSuite Dashboard!

All of the configuration is the same as we've described above with a handful of minor differences:

  • Widget Name: Name the Column Chart - this text will be displayed in the widget's border to let people know what data they're looking at.

  • Table: Saved Views are configured in the context of a specific Table, but widgets live at the Solution level. Start your configuration by picking which Table contains the data you want on your chart.

Once you have configured your chart parameters to your liking, click Add Widget to place it on your Dashboard. That's all there is to it!

Column Chart Use Cases

Here are a few charting use cases to get you thinking about Column chart and when it can be the best chart type choice.

Use Case: Comparing Single Values

Column charts are great for comparing the change in a single value over time - the straight-forward, clear representation of the data is easily interpreted at a glance.

Use Case: Showing Value Outliers

Column charts do a good job of quickly making visible outliers in your data. It only takes a second to know that there was something a bit off in June and August in the chart displayed below.


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