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How to Read from a Bar Chart (Mathematics Lesson)

Reading from a Bar Chart

Imagine a teacher asked their class what their favorite color was.

The bar chart below shows how many students prefer each color:

A bar chart showing the class's favorite colors

We can read the heights of the bars to find out how many students preferred each color.

How to Read from a Bar Chart

Reading from a bar chart is easy.

The values in our data set are shown along the horizontal axis. In our example, these are the favorite colors of the students.

How many times each value appears in our data set (the frequency) is shown along the vertical axis. In our example, these are how many students prefer a color.

The height of the bar above each color tells us how many students prefer that color.

An Example Question

The bar chart below shows the favorite colors of students in a class.

How many students prefer each color?

A bar chart showing the class's favorite colors
Step 1

Look at the first color. In our example, it is Blue.

Read off the height of the bar above the color. In our example, the height is 10.

10 students' favorite color is blue

10 students' favorite color is blue.

Step 2

Look at the next color. In our example, it is Red.

Read off the height of the bar above the color. In our example, the height is 15.

15 students' favorite color is red

15 students' favorite color is red.

Step 3

Look at the next color. In our example, it is Yellow.

Read off the height of the bar above the color. In our example, the height is 10.

10 students' favorite color is yellow

10 students' favorite color is yellow.

We have read off the bar chart:

  • 10 students' favorite color is blue.

  • 15 students' favorite color is red.

  • 10 students' favorite color is yellow.

A Real Example of How to Read from a Bar Chart

The slider below gives another example of reading from a bar chart.

Interactive Test
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Here's a second test on reading from a bar chart.
Here's a third test on reading from a bar chart.
Note

What Is a Bar Chart?

A bar chart (or bar graph) is a chart which uses bars to present data.

The height of each bar shows how often (the frequency) each value appears in the data.