How to Title Bar Graphs

Close-up of bar graph
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A bar graph is a two-dimensional display of data in a bar format. This format allows you to compare characteristics and frequencies such as quantity and price between and within groups of data. Required bar graph titles include the name of the graph, the title of the vertical axes, and the title of the horizontal axes. It is important to title bar graphs carefully so the information makes sense and the graph is easy to read and understand.

    Name the bar graph. The general title of the bar graph should provide an overview of the information it contains and give the readers an indication of the data they will be looking at. For example, for a bar graph that will help a school determine freshman enrollment trends with regard to introductory foreign language courses, a good title for the bar graph might be “Freshman Enrollment in Introductory Foreign Language Courses.”

    Name the vertical axis, which is the y axis. The vertical axis describes quantity using a frequency scale of number units. In the case of the enrollment bar graph, this would be the number of students in the freshman class, described in number units. A good title for the vertical axis would be “Freshman Enrollment.” If the total number of freshman students were 200, a number unit to consider using would be 50.

    Name the horizontal axis, which is the x axis. The horizontal axis describes grouped data. In the case of the enrollment bar graph, this would be the introductory courses, such as Spanish, French or Latin. A good name for the horizontal axis would be “Introductory Foreign Language Courses.”


    • An alternate naming method is to name both axes first, and use their names in the title of the graph.

      To see how your finished product will look if you tilt it differently, use a website graphing tool such KidZone provided by the National Center for Education Statistics.

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