How to create a split bar chart

Split Bars are great when you have related numbers for a range of categories. You could do one chart per category, but that would make it just more difficult to compare. The split bar chart it great to show comparison side-by-side. Here we show you how to create such a chart with Datawrapper.

Different than a regular bar chart, a split bar chart can show more than just one value for a category. Instead of creating five separate bar charts, you can instantly present the results for multiple values of one category in one chart.


Preparing and importing the data

For creating this chart type, you'll need:

  • One header row containing descriptive labels
  • One column containing categories. This will determine the label in front of each bar. In our case, that's the social network.
  • At least two columns containing numeric values. Each number in your columns determine the length of the bar. You can have as many numeric columns as you like, but they will be hard to read on mobile devices, so consider aggregating your data into five or six columns. If you want to display just one column with data, opt for the normal bar chart type.

That's the data we used to create the chart at the top of the page:

Social Network I don't use it Occasionally A few times a week Once a day A few times a day
Tumblr 66 12 6 4 11
Pinterest 56 18 10 6 10
Google+ 48 21 8 7 16
Twitter 45 13 7 7 28
Instagram 34 8 7 8 43
Facebook 13 14 12 14 47

Source: eMarketer

Once you have prepared your data, create a new chart in Datawrapper. You can do so by going to our homepage and clicking on ''Start creating". In Step 1: Upload, copy & paste your dataset, upload it as a .csv or as an Excel or Google  Spreadsheet.  After pasting the data into Datawrapper, it will look like this: 

Click "Proceed" at the bottom right to go to the next step:


Check & Describe

In the second step, you can check if your dataset was imported correctly and make changes to it - if necessary. If you did not upload a header row, you have to untick "First row as label" to avoid losing your first row of data. Always remember to do this if you don't have descriptive row and column headers.

In step 2, your data should look something like the figure below- automatically sorted into rows and columns. You can see that Datawrapper correctly recognized your numbers as numbers (and not as text or dates) because they are colored in blue and are right-aligned. To learn more about the Datawrapper's automatic recognition of data formats, visit this article.

Click on "Proceed" at the bottom left to go to Step 3: Visualize:



Now comes the fun part. Under the tab ''chart type'', you will see a grid of chart types displayed. Odds are your data will automatically be displayed as a line chart. To change that, click on the "Split Bars" symbol:

You will now see a split bars chart, without a title, descriptions or customized colors. The next step would be to further refine, annotate & define this chart. We cover this in a separate Academy article found here.