Histogram Vs Bar Graph

Histogram Vs Bar graph: 8 Key Differences, Benefits and Examples

Histogram Vs Bar graph. Though these both graphs look somewhat similar, there are some key differences. Histogram and Bar graphs are the two most widely used graphs for visualization.

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In this article, we will learn the key differences between histograms and bar graphs, understand the basic features, its benefits, and few popular examples.

What is a Histogram?


  • A histogram is a graphical representation of data distribution, displaying the frequency or relative frequency of values within specified intervals or bins.
  • It consists of a series of adjacent rectangles, where the area of each rectangle corresponds to the frequency of observations falling within that interval.
  • Histograms are primarily used to visualize the distribution and shape of continuous or discrete data.
  • Histograms are commonly used in various fields, such as statistics, data analysis, and data visualization. They are particularly useful for analyzing large datasets and understanding the shape, center, and spread of the data.
  • By examining the histogram, you can gain insights into the distribution of values, including whether it is symmetrical, skewed, or multimodal.
  • To construct a histogram, you first need to determine the appropriate number of bins or intervals to divide the data.
  • This can be done using various methods, such as the square root rule, Sturges’ formula, or Scott’s normal reference rule. Once the bins are defined, you count the number of values that fall into each bin and plot the corresponding bars.

Benefits of Histogram

  1. Data Distribution Visualization: Histograms provide a clear and concise visual representation of the distribution of data.
  2. Frequency Analysis: Histograms enable us to analyze the frequency or count of data falling within specific intervals or bins. By examining the height s of the bars in the histogram, we can compare the relative frequencies of different categories or ranges.
  3. Data Exploration and Understanding: Histograms serve as exploratory tools that allow us to explore and understand the dataset more effectively. They help answer questions such as: How are the data values distributed? Are they skewed or symmetric? Are there any gaps or clusters in the data?
  4. Identification of Outliers and Anomalies: Histograms make it easier to identify outliers and anomalies within the dataset. Outliers are data points that significantly deviate from the majority of the data. In a histogram, outliers appear as bars that are much higher or lower than the surrounding bars.
  5. Comparison and Visualization of Multiple Distributions: Histograms allow us to compare multiple distributions simultaneously. By overlaying histograms or creating grouped histograms, we can visually compare the distribution of different datasets or subsets of data.
  6. Decision Making: Histograms provide a visual aid that supports data-driven decision making. By examining the histogram, we can draw conclusions and make informed choices based on the data’s distribution characteristics.
  7. Communication and Presentation: Histograms are effective tools for communicating data insights to others.

Examples of Histogram

  1. Exam Scores: Imagine a dataset of exam scores for a class of students. The histogram can display the frequency of scores within different score ranges.
  2. Income Distribution: A histogram can illustrate the income distribution of a population.
  3. Customer Purchase Amounts: For a retail store, a histogram can depict the distribution of customer purchase amounts.
  4. Website Loading Times: A histogram can display the distribution of website loading times.
  5. Temperature Distribution: A histogram can illustrate the distribution of daily temperatures recorded over a month.

What is a Bar Graph?

Bar Graph

  • A bar graph, also known as a bar chart, is a graphical representation that displays categorical data using rectangular bars.
  • The length or height of each bar corresponds to the value or frequency of the category being represented.
  • Bar graphs are commonly used to compare different categories or groups, making them effective for visualizing discrete data.
  • In a bar graph, the horizontal axis represents the categories or groups being compared, while the vertical axis represents the values or quantities associated with each category.
  • Bar graphs are commonly used to display categorical data and make comparisons between different groups or categories.
  • They are especially useful for showing discrete data and representing data that can be divided into distinct categories.

Benefits of Bar graph

  1. Comparison: Bar graphs excel at comparing different categories or groups. The lengths or heights of the bars provide a quick and intuitive way to compare the values or quantities associated with each category.
  2. Clarity: Bar graphs present data in a clear and concise manner. The simple and straightforward design of the bars makes it easy for viewers to interpret and understand the information being presented. The visual representation of the data enhances clarity and facilitates comprehension, even for individuals with limited data analysis expertise.
  3. Visual Impact: Bar graphs have visual impact, making them memorable and engaging. The use of distinct bars and colors or patterns to differentiate categories enhances the visual appeal and draws attention to the data. This can be particularly useful when presenting data to an audience or when trying to make a strong impression with the information.
  4. Flexibility: Bar graphs are versatile and can be used to represent various types of data. They can effectively display discrete data with distinct categories, as well as grouped data where categories can be further divided into subgroups. Bar graphs can also be used to show changes over time by presenting data in multiple bars for different time periods, allowing for dynamic comparisons.
  5. Interpretation: Bar graphs facilitate easy interpretation of data. By visually representing the relationships and patterns, they enable viewers to quickly grasp the key insights and draw meaningful conclusions. Bar graphs make it easier to identify trends, compare magnitudes, and detect outliers, supporting data-driven decision making and analysis.
  6. Communication: Bar graphs are effective tools for communicating data insights. Bar graphs can be included in reports, presentations, infographics, or dashboards to convey key findings and support data-driven narratives.
  7. Accessibility: Bar graphs are accessible to a wide range of audiences, including those with limited statistical or analytical knowledge. The simplicity of the design and the intuitive nature of the visual representation make bar graphs easy to understand and interpret, ensuring that the information can be effectively communicated to diverse stakeholders.

Examples of Bar Graph

  1. Sales by Product Category: A bar graph can illustrate the sales figures for different product categories of a company.
  2. Population by Country: A bar graph can display the population sizes of different countries.
  3. Survey Results by Response: A bar graph can depict the results of a survey based on different response options.
  4. Market Share by Competitors: A bar graph can show the market share of different competitors in a specific industry.
  5. Temperature Range by Month: A bar graph can illustrate the average temperature ranges for each month of the year.

Histogram Vs Bar Graph

Though these both graphs look somewhat similar, there are 8 major key differences. These key differences are specifically in terms of definition, data representation, spaces, Data type, width of bar, scope of reordering, use cases and interpretation.

Histogram Vs Bar Graph

Lets explore each difference in detail.

Sr. No



Bar Graph



Histogram refers to a graphical representation, that displays data by way of bars to show the frequency of numerical data.

Bar graph is a pictorial representation of data that uses bars to compare different categories of data.


Data Representation

X-axis represents the range of values or intervals, while the y-axis represents the frequency or relative frequency.

X-axis represents the categories or groups, while the y-axis represents the value or frequency.



The bars in a histogram are usually adjacent to each other, without any gaps.

The bars in a bar graph are separated by gaps.


Data Types

Commonly used to represent quantitative data.
For Example: Numerical values such as measurements or counts.

Suitable for representing qualitative or categorical data.
For Example:  Non-numerical, such as different types of products, cities, or preferences.


Width of bars

Histogram width may vary.

The bar chart is mostly of equal width.


Scope of reordering

The bars cannot be reordered.

In the bar graph, an analyst’s scope of reordering is possible.


Use Cases

Histograms are commonly used in statistical analysis and research to understand the distribution of data and identify patterns.

 Bar graphs are versatile and can be used in various scenarios.
They are often employed in market research, surveys, and business presentations to compare different categories or groups.



Interpreting a histogram involves analyzing the shape, central tendency, and dispersion of the data.

The interpretation of a bar graph revolves around understanding the differences in values or frequencies between different categories.


Histogram Vs Bar Graph


In summary, histograms and bar graphs are two distinct types of graphs used for different purposes. Histograms are effective in representing the distribution of continuous or discrete data, while bar graphs excel in comparing values or frequencies of different categories. Understanding the key differences between histograms and bar graphs enables us to choose the appropriate graph type for visualizing and interpreting our data accurately.


  1. Can a histogram be used to represent categorical data?

No, histograms are primarily used to represent quantitative data. For categorical data, a bar graph would be more suitable.

  1. Can a bar graph show the distribution of continuous data?

No, bar graphs are not designed to represent the distribution of continuous data. Histograms are more appropriate for analyzing continuous data distribution.

  1. What is the advantage of using a histogram over a bar graph?

Histograms provide insights into the distribution and shape of data, making them suitable for analyzing continuous or discrete data.

  1. When should I use a bar graph instead of a histogram?

You should use a bar graph when you want to compare different categories or groups, such as sales by region or preferences of different age groups.

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