How to create a stacked column chart

This guide will show you how to prepare your data to create a stacked column chart. 

The  stacked column chart is ideal to present proportions of categories, providing very easy comparison. This is achieved by adding up constituent categorical dimensions. Each dimension will be represented by a part of a column and color-coded as well as sized accordingly. You can use a stacked area column to compare one year vs. another or reduce it to showing just one year in some cases. 

No matter how detailed your data is, the Datawrapper stacked column chart features an intelligent labeling function to avoid a cluttered visualization.

1. Preparing and importing the data

The following dataset is used for the chart above. The header row contains descriptive labels that define the major categories (years) and categorical dimensions (spendings).

Spending 2000 2005 2010 2015
Government Pensions 0.5 0.7 1.0 1.2
Government Healthcare 0.5 0.8 1.1 1.4
Government Education 0.6 0.8 0.9 1.0
National Defense 0.4 0.6 0.8 0.8
Government Welfare 0.2 0.3 0.7 0.5
All other spending 1.0 1.2 1.4 1.5
Source: http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/breakdown

Your dataset should be formatted like this:

  • Major categories as column headers
  • Categorical dimensions that constitute the major categories in the first column
  • Values of comparable measures

Since this is a absolute stacked column chart the values do not have to add up to a certain value. If you are looking for a 100% stacked column chart, all values in one row have must add up to 100% (or 1). In this example each column of the table (except for the first column) is represented by one column in the chart. The height and color of each part of the whole column are defined by the values.

Once your dataset looks like this, you can copy it into Datawrapper.

2. Check & Describe

This is what the table will look like after you uploaded it. Make sure that the box  "First row as lable" is ticked so that Datawrapper correctly assigns the values to the labels.

Click on "Proceed" and Datawrapper will take you to the next step.

3. Visualize

The chart type to choose here is the "Stacked Column Chart". Experienced users of Datawrapper will know that, but if you just started it is important to know that with the selection of this chart type the options and features available for this chart will change in the sections RefineAnnotate and Design. We cover this in a separate short tutorial found here.

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