Using bar and column charts

Bar and column charts can present a number of quantitative fields in an eye-catching fashion. Generally, you'll draw a layer with bar and column charts when your layer has a number of related numeric attributes that you want to compare. Bar/column charts are useful for showing relative amounts rather than proportions or percentages.

The following examples show the use of bar and column charts to show the distribution of population by age for each county.

Example of a bar chart layer display
A bar chart layer of population by age group
Example of a column chart layer display
A column chart layer of population by age group


Charts are most effective when mapping no more than 30 features. Otherwise, the patterns on the map will be difficult to see. Typically, use just a few categories on a chart.

  1. Right-click the layer you want to display using bar or column charts and click Properties.
  2. Click the Symbology tab on the Layer Properties dialog box.
    Menu for setting the properties of bar/column chart maps
  3. Click Charts and click Bar/Column.
  4. Under Field Selection, click the numeric field(s) that you want to map. Then, use the arrow buttons to add and remove fields to the field list.
  5. Optionally, select a Normalization field to normalize the data. The values in this field will be used to divide the value fields to create ratios.
  6. Use the Color Scheme drop-down menu to select the color ramp that you want to use.
  7. You can double-click an individual symbol in the list to change its properties.

  8. If you want to prevent overlapping charts, check Prevent chart overlap.
  9. Click Size.
  10. This will display a small dialog box to set the maximum length of the bars in your chart using points.
    Setting the bar size for your charts.
    Note that when you set this value, it will also scale the current bar width and bar spacing. You can use Properties to set these values.
    The Chart Symbol Editor
    You can use the Chart Symbol Editor to set the bar dimensions, the type of chart (bar or column), and other display properties.
  11. Optionally, click the Exclusion button and use a SQL expression to exclude values (such as outliers).
  12. Click OK.