How to Make a Break in a Graph

Data numbers on a graph don't always group close together. For example, a graph recording a freelancer's income can fluctuate greatly from month to month. These large differences in numbers leave spaces in the graph that aren't used to mark an end number. A graph showing income might record $2,000 the first month and $8,000 the second month. It also records all the numbers, such as $4,000 and $5,000, in between that you don't need. Cut out these extra numbers by adding a break in the graph.

    Identify the break in your data and adjust accordingly. For example, if the number data ends at 12,000 units and picks up again at 34,000 units, adjust to 10,000 and 32,000 to give the graph room to show the data.

    Insert the break on the vertical, or “y,” axis of the graph. Draw two parallel and slightly slanted lines through the y-axis between the break in data. For example, if your units jump from 10,000 to 32,000, draw the lines between those two numbers.

    Draw the same symbol into any bars that extend up into the second pieces of information. For example, if a bar stretches up to 34,000 units when the graph jumps from 10,000 to 32,000, draw a break symbol that lines up with the one on the y-axis on that bar.

    Draw two parallel, horizontal lines on a line graph. Each line extends out from one of the slanted break marks on the y-axis. Any data lines that extend through the break stop at the bottom line and continue at the top line, leaving space between the two.

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About the Author

Colby Stream has been a writer since 2007. His work has appeared in "The Arbiter," the student newspaper of Boise State University, as well as various websites. Stream graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in communication as a presidential civic leadership scholar.

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