Your presentation-development partner … demonstrate and inspire!

Tutorial for Data-Driven Charts 006 – Column Charts

Working with Column Charts

Column charts show volume. The limited space below the horizontal baseline makes them best suited for presenting timeframes, e.g., years, quarters, hours. If there aren't too many columns, more text can be accommodated in the labels. Switch to a bar configuration if you need more horizontal space for labels.

Another alternative to a column chart on a timeframe is a line or area chart.

We advocate for the use of values on top of the columns instead of using a y axis and gridlines. It is easier for your audience to extract the information they need when the values are present.

Customizing data-driven charts

Adjust size

To adjust the size of a data-driven chart, you must double click on it and then adjust it by pulling the corner handles. Do not size without double-clicking on the chart. The text will skew and the chart may even eventually corrupt if you size incorrectly. This is important. The text may scale as you do this (which is an option you can choose or not choose). We recommend that you do not scale your text, as font size consistency is important for readability.

Color variations

The colors for data-driven charts are determined by your template's color scheme or palette. Your template needs to reflect the branded colors of your template or your charts will fail to do so. If you need to augment the colors in your template, select complementary or contrasting colors that work well with your palette. Then use them consistently. Lines are not used in these templates. If you wish to use outline line on the bars, activate them and color them in the menu.

3D variations

3D is not recommended. 3D in charts is ambiguous and imprecise. The idea behind presenting data is to be precise. Never sacrifice clarity or concision for the sake of style.


Apply shadows carefully if at all. It's probably better to apply gradients, patterns, and pictures. You don't want anything to obscure the values or make them ambiguous. This is the same argument against using 3D.

Gradients, patterns, and pictures

Gradients can be used, but use them consistently and carefully.


Animate with a purpose. Simple reveals are much more effective than the more "startling" animations, unless of course you are trying to startle your audience. Add pizzazz by way of content, not by adding sparkly accessories.

Series that relate to this tutorial:

DD006 – Data-Driven Charts 006 – Column Charts

Possible use example

Links to instructions for getting the framework into your presentation

  1. Determine the best file type for your needs
  2. Download the file
  3. Import the framework into your presentation
    1. Importing a PPT file
    2. Importing a EMF or PNG
Top Share