Even the most compelling statistics can look lack-luster when written down in text. That’s why many educators and communicators turn to graphs. They are effective tools for helping people visualize and comprehend large amounts of data. There are many different types of graphs, but bar graphs are particularly popular for communicating information visually.
Bar graphs use vertical or horizontal bars to represent data along both an x-axis and a y-axis. The bars stacked next to each other make it simple to compare values at a glance. Some advantages of bar graphs are that they’re widely used, easily understood, and able to show composition within a dataset - for example, composition of age groups within a population.
On the mySidewalk platform, data are categorized in two ways: as "mySidewalk Data" (these are data found in our data library. They are publicly available, often national, datasets that we’ve compiled and made available for all users in mySidewalk) or as "User Data" (these are datasets you’ve uploaded that are specific to your project. Other mySidewalk users cannot access your User Data). In this article, you’ll learn how to build a bar graph using your User Data. To learn how to make a bar graph with mySidewalk data, refer to this article.
Creating a Bar Graph with Your User Data
- While editing your dashboard or report, click the plus sign (+) on the left side of the screen. While that menu is open, click the Bar icon and select to use Your Data. This brings you to the “User Data Library.”
2. In the "User Data Library", you can search for the user-uploaded dataset you'd like to create a chart with. If you know which data you’re looking for, you can search by the dataset name or tagged keywords in the search bar. Otherwise, you may use the "Filter Menu" to filter the data library by Data Source, Time, or Geography level.
3. Once you’ve identified the data you’d like to use, you can add it to your chart by clicking the blue plus sign. Adding your data will bring you back to the chart editor, where you can customize your new bar graph.
Editing a Bar Graph with Your Data
There are lots of options to style, edit and customize the various elements of your graph and the process is simple.
Hover over the bar graph you’d like to modify and select Edit from the menu that appears. This navigates you to an editing page for your bar graph. The "Bar Chart Editor" includes a preview pane and the settings menu in the dark gray area to the right.
The “Bar Graph Settings” menu has three tabs: Geography, Data and Style.
The Geography tab is where you can change the geography of your data or add additional geographies for comparison purposes.
The Data tab is where you can add, remove, rename or reorder the data in your chart. When using your User Data, variables in your bar graph must each be manually added. To add variables to your bar graph, click Add and use the drop down menu to select the desired data. Each variable is shown in a “Variable Card” in the settings menu. By Selecting More Options you can customize variable labels, normalize values, drag-and-drop to reorder variables in the graph or delete variables.
The Style tab allows you to put the finishing touches on your bar graph. This is where you can:
- Customize the title of your graph
- Include or edit the footnote
- Choose between a vertical or horizontal graph orientation
- Add or edit a static line
- Customize the color scheme
Once you’ve made all the needed edits, you can save your work by clicking “Done”. This will take you out of the editing window and return you to your dashboard or report.
With these steps, you will be able to communicate your data to your audience in a way that’s simple, efficient and aesthetically pleasing. Happy graph building!