Line charts vs Bar charts

Line charts vs Bar charts

Sometimes we're asked "can I switch between line chart and a bar chart"?  No, you can't.  

The reason is that they show different things.  From a data visualization standpoint, there is a right and wrong answer to which chart should be used and when.  Column and Bar charts (like a price distribution) *must* be bound at zero because they show relative total size.  Line charts (like median price) don't have to be bound at zero.  Typically, you can use line charts for both basic counts and more complex calculations; but would only use column charts for counts.  Also, line charts are meant to show trends over time, while bar charts are for comparing data across categories.

The exception we make to the zero-bound rule is when it's important to show separation of data, and forcing zero-bounds on column charts hides the variance.  The 'Percent of List Price Received" metric is the perfect example of this.  Since that metric generally only changes by a couple of percentage points at most, we let it be bound by a number greater than zero.

Besides, we'd rather give you the right answers than force you into "choose your own adventure" stats.
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