Bar charts are typically used to compare values across categories or groups of data. With Sigma, you can create basic single-series bar charts, or you can build advanced charts to compare multiple metrics, measure values against reference marks, evaluate parts of a whole, etc.

This document details basic bar chart requirements and introduces key properties and format options to help you enhance your workbook visualizations.

Example use cases:

  • Store analytics - measure total sales by product category to identify top and bottom performing categories.
  • Marketing analytics - track unique website page views by ad referral site (LinkedIn, GoogleAds, etc.) to understand ad performance trends and referral site effectiveness.
  • Accounting analytics - monitor travel expenses by spend category to understand travel spend and identify categories that exceed expectations.
  • Education analytics (histogram) - count student exam results by score range to analyze frequency distribution and understand performance variability.

Summary of Content

User Requirements

Workbook Prerequisite

Basic Bar Chart Requirements

Select the Visualization Type

Define the Categories

Define the Metric

Advanced Bar Chart Properties and Formatting

Change Orientation and Stacking

Configure Mark Colors

Conditional Formatting

Resize Gap Width

All Bar Chart Format Options

Related Resources


User Requirements

To create and save edits to workbook visualizations, you must be the workbook owner or be granted Can Edit access.

Users with Can Explore access to the workbook can modify visualization properties and formatting but cannot save changes.


Workbook Prerequisite

Before you can build a bar chart, you must add a new visualization element and select a data source.

At the core of every visualization is an underlying data table (derived from the data source) that supplies the information visualized by the chart. As you build a bar chart, Sigma automatically groups, aggregates, and calculates the underlying data to create source columns for various visualization properties. You can view the underlying data table while configuring the chart to see how the data is applied.

Bar charts support up to 25,000 data points. If the configurations result in a data set that exceeds this limit, the chart displays the first 25,000 data points, and a warning message indicates that the chart is incomplete. To reduce the number of data points, aggregate the values or apply data filters to the visualization or source element.


Basic Bar Chart Requirements

To plot a bar chart, you must configure the following properties in the Element properties tab:

  • Visualization - chart type displayed in the workbook
  • X-axis - source column that defines the x-axis (horizontal axis) categories or metric
  • Y-axis - source column that defines the y-axis (vertical axis) categories or metric

In a bar chart, one axis typically represents ordinal or nominal categories (e.g., stages, regions, departments), each presented as a vertical or horizontal bar. The other axis represents a metric (e.g., sales, leads, expenses), which measures a value for each category and determines the height or length of the corresponding bar. The type of data affiliated with each axis depends on the chart orientation, which you can modify at any time.

Select the Visualization Type

Once you add a new visualization to a workbook, select the visualization type:

  • In the Visualization property, click the dropdown field and select Bar from the list.

    You can also use this dropdown field to convert an existing visualization to a different type. Sigma retains all property and format configurations shared by the initial and new type. Unshared properties and formatting are not saved or restored if you further convert the visualization.

Define the Categories

Configure a source column to define the chart categories.

When building a vertical bar chart (default orientation), apply the following steps to the X-axis property. When building a horizontal bar chart, apply the steps to the Y-axis property. To learn more about chart orientation and how it impacts chart axes, see Change Orientation and Stacking.

  1. In the applicable axis property, click Add column and select an option from the menu:
    • To generate categories based on distinct values in an existing column, search or scroll the Select column list and select the preferred column name.
    • To generate categories based on a custom formula, select New column and enter the formula in the toolbar. For example, when building a histogram, create a custom formula using the BinRange or BinFixed function to generate categories based on value ranges.

    You can also select or replace an existing column by dragging and dropping a column name from the Columns list to the applicable axis property.

  2. [optional] Control how the source column data is categorized and displayed in the chart:
    1. To open the column menu, click the caret () to the right of the source column name.
    2. Hover over any of the following items, then select the preferred option:
      • Truncate date - Categorize date values by the selected interval or unit of measure.
      • Transform - Convert the column to the selected data value type.
      • Format - Display axis and data labels in the selected format.

    Availability of column menu items and corresponding options varies depending on the column’s data value type (e.g., Truncate date is available for date values only).

Define the Metric

Configure a source column to define the chart metric. Sigma automatically aggregates metric values associated with the same chart category.

Apply the following steps to the Y-axis property when building a vertical bar chart (default orientation) or the X-axis property when building a horizontal bar chart. To learn more about chart orientation and how it impacts chart axes, see Change Orientation and Stacking.

  1. In the applicable axis property, click Add calculation and select an option from the menu:
    • To aggregate values of an existing column, search or scroll the Aggregate column list and select the preferred column name.
    • To calculate values based on a custom formula, select New column and enter the formula in the toolbar.
    • To count the number of rows associated with each category, select Row count.

    You can also select an existing column by dragging and dropping a column name from the Columns list to the applicable axis property.

  2. [optional] Control how the source column data is calculated and displayed in the chart:
    1. To open the column menu, click the caret () to the right of the source column name.
    2. Hover over any of the following items, then select the preferred option:
      • Set aggregate - Calculate values based on the selected aggregation method.
      • Transform - Convert the column to the selected data value type.
      • Format - Display axis and data labels in the selected format.

    To plot the source column data without aggregating values, clear the Aggregate values checkbox in the Y-axis property. If this results in an incomplete chart that exceeds the 25,000 data point limit, reaggregate the values or apply data filters to reduce the number of data points.

    You can also use the toolbar to change the aggregation method (via the formula) and data label format.

  3. [optional] Repeat the previous steps to add multiple y-axis source columns. Sigma plots the columns as stacked or clustered series.
  4. [optional] Sigma auto-generates source column names and chart titles to reflect the visualized data, but you can customize these fields as needed:
    • To rename a source column, double-click the column name in the X-axis or Y-axis property, then enter a new name. Changes are reflected in the default chart title.
    • To edit the chart title, double-click the title in the visualization, then enter a new title.

    Sigma auto-generates the default chart title only. Once the title is customized, it no longer reflects changes to source columns and their names.


Advanced Bar Chart Properties and Formatting

Sigma features various properties and format options that give you the flexibility to build advanced bar charts and variations, including stacked, percent stacked, clustered (grouped), and dual-axis bar charts. 

The following sections introduce configurations that can enhance your bar charts and help you deliver specific insights with meaningful and actionable information.

Change Orientation and Stacking

Change bar chart orientation and stacking in the Element properties > Visualization property to optimize the way you compare data across and within categories.

Orientation

Vertical

Categorize data on the x-axis and measure metric values on the y-axis to create vertical bar marks.

Horizontal

Categorize data on the y-axis and measure metric values on the x-axis to create horizontal bar marks.
Stacking

No stacking

Plot multiple data series as separate bars within categories. Compare metric values across and within categories in the resulting clustered bar chart.

Stacked

Plot multiple data series as cumulative bar segments. Compare subcategory contributions to each category’s total sum metric value in the resulting stacked bar chart.

Stacked 100%

Plot multiple data series as stacked bars totaling 100% of each category’s total sum metric value. Compare subcategory distribution in the resulting percent stacked bar chart.

Configure Mark Colors

Configure bar mark colors in the Element properties > Marks > Color tab to differentiate data, highlight specific values, add a color category, create a color scale, etc.

Single color

Enter a hex color code or select a standard color for each data series.

See Conditional Formatting for information about adding formatting rules.

By category

Select a source column to define color categories, then select or customize a color palette for the resulting stacks or clusters.

By scale

Select a source column to define the color scale, then select a color range to apply to the marks.

Multiple y-axis metrics (in a vertical bar chart) or x-axis metrics (in a horizontal bar chart) result in a stacked or clustered bar chart in which each data series represents a measurement of a different metric. The By category color setting can also generate bar stacks or clusters, but the resulting series represent sub-categories (within the chart categories) that measure the same metric.

Conditional Formatting

When you select Single color in the Element properties > Marks > Color tab, you can configure formatting rules (+ Add rule) that determine bar mark colors according to value-based conditions. This creates exceptions to the single-color selection, allowing you to highlight values that meet the specified conditions.

Example:

When the conditions of multiple rules are met, Sigma applies the formatting rules in order of precedence, from top to bottom. Drag and drop rule blocks to reorder them as needed.

Resize Gap Width

Resize gaps between bar marks in the Element format > Gaps section. Gap widths are auto-sized to optimize readability, but Sigma gives you the flexibility to customize bar chart spacing.

Small Medium Large

All Bar Chart Format Options

* Supported by stacked bar charts only


Related Resources