How to Make Histograms: Their Examples & Types

by | Dec 19, 2019 | Data Analytics

11 Min Read. |

We all have seen and heard about the histogram and the different ways to interpret and create them. But why are we willing to spend so much time on a set of bars or straightened lines, as some people call it.

Let’s take the example of the book set of a kindergarten child. Have you ever wondered that rhymes and books that are provided to kids under 5 years of age have more images in them rather than the written content? If not earlier, then you must be thinking about it now.

The reason is the capability of the human mind to capture a picture quickly than a piece of written information. And the interesting fact is that even the adult minds are bound by this psychological datum and that is the reason histograms have gained so much importance in this world today.

Given the effectiveness of this fact, they are now a part of a statistical life to interpret data and that is why we have prepared the ultimate guide on how to make a histogram, how to create them in excel and the histograms examples to understand the kind of data can represent with its properties.

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What is a Histogram?

Before moving ahead with how to make use of them, let’s take a minute to understand what does the term actually means. So, the first lessons first,

“A histogram is not a bar chart.”

Going by the definition, it is a graphical representation of the distribution of the numerical data. It seems quite simple, isn’t it? Yet, there is a whole lot of information wrapped up in this line and we will help you understand every bit of it.

To do that, let’s use some simple words to understand the definition. So, in general, a histogram is a graph that holds information in vertical bars or columns. It tells us the number of times a particular set of data has come up in a selected range. This range is called the bin.

Understanding the Parts of a Histogram

A histogram has 5 main parts which are important to understand in order to read one or create one. They are:

1. Title

The title of the histogram is the most relevant part of it. It is the first parameter to give an idea of what the represented data talks about. For example, if the title of a histogram is ‘histogram of monthly salary’ then this gives the audience a hint that the representation is between the monthly salary and the employees of a company.

2. The X-Axis

As we have been talking so far about the graphical representation of data, it is generally made on a 2D graph with X-axis being on the horizontal level. The X-axis contains the bins or the range for the data. In the case of a monthly salary histogram example, the range of salary like 1000-2000 will be represented on the X-axis.

3. The Y-Axis

This axis tells the reader about the frequency of the bins on the other axis. For example, if one of the salary range on the X-axis is 1000-2000 and 5 employees get that salary, then 5 is the frequency of that bin which is represented on the Y-axis.

4. The Bars

When all the frequencies are marked on the Y-axis against the corresponding bin on X-axis, a bar is formed with the data. The higher the bar, the higher the frequency for a bin. However, the width of the bar is also a factor to be considered because histograms are about the area covered in the graph and not just the height of the bar.

5. The Units

The units mentioned on each of the axes makes the representation of numbers logical to be interpreted for the audience. For example, in the case of a monthly salary histogram, we have talked about a bin size of 1000-2000 but we haven’t discussed its units. Does this amount mean one thousand rupees to two thousand rupees or one thousand paise to two thousand paise? So, if the units are not specified, the numbers may seem absurd with respect to the real-world scenarios.

Continue reading to learn more about histograms and how to make a histogram.

How to Read Histograms

How to Read Histograms

Properties of a Histogram

Before trying to create a histogram or learning how to make a histogram, it is important to know about the thumb rules of it. Though, they are not defined anywhere but going through the ones devised with years of experience of dealing with histograms will make it easier to understand them.

(i) A number of classes or bins: Bins which is the range on the X-axis of the histogram is also called a class and each class has the same distribution of data as well. There can be as many bins on a histogram as one requires but there has to be a minimum and maximum value. If these are not considered beforehand then the graphical representation loses its worth.

(ii) The width of the bins: Now that we are aware of the maximum and minimum of our histogram, it is equally important to learn how to distribute them to maintain the readability of the data.

This means every range or bin or class of a histogram should be equal. The distribution of the numbers between the maximum and the minimum should be equal, so meet the purpose of the graphical representation with equal weight-age.

Say for a histogram example of monthly salary, the minimum salary could be INR 5000 and the maximum could be INR 40,000. Now to distribute them equally, we can take classes like INR 5000-10,000, INR 10,001 -15000 and so on till INR 40,000.

How to Make a Histogram with Histogram Examples?

Given all this information about the data representation, let us make sure you are confident about how to make a histogram as and when needed with the help of these steps and the example of a monthly salary histogram.

Step 1: Draw a horizontal line which is the x-axis in a histogram.

Step 2: Decide your minimum and maximum value to be represented and its distribution as well. For the monthly salary histogram example, the minimum salary is INR 5000 and the maximum is INR 40,000. The distribution range decided is 5000 and this means the number of bins will be 9.

Step 3: Mark the unit on the X-axis to maintain the readability.

Step 4: Draw a vertical line which will be the Y-axis of the histogram.

Step 5: Mark numbers on the Y-axis as well. They can also be in a range like 1-10, 10-20 or be numbers on a vertical line say 1, 2, 3, and so on depending upon the data. For the monthly salary histogram, we will mark numbers 1 to 10 considering there are only 10 employees in the company.

Step 6: Mark the units on the Y-axis as well. In this case, it would be a number of people.

Step 7: Mark the data for each bin vertically at a height which matches with the frequency on the Y-axis. Say, for the salary bin of 20,001 to 25,000, there are 5 people getting that amount paid. Then, mark a point at a height of 5 above this selected range to form a vertical bar.

Though you might not prepare a histogram like this every time with a pen, paper, and scale to draw lines and mark the values, yet then this will be a basic process about how to make a histogram with maximum efficiency.

Drawing Histograms in Excel

Now that you understand how to make a histogram and what all factors come into play while preparing a histogram, one with a defined set of data says 50 people can be easily made with the steps mentioned above. However, in the real world, there are thousands and millions of data to be handled every day.

And to project this data with maximum accuracy the Microsoft Excel tools are one of the best and easiest methods to create it. So, here are the steps and methods to create a histogram with excel.

For this, we are going to assume that we have at least 50 rows of data to be represented as histograms in excel ready with us. The required columns in excel would be a list of numbers, their frequency, and the bin size. Please note that bin size will be constant for data representation once decided.

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How to Make a Histogram with Data Analysis Tool in Excel?

This tool is available as an add-in to create a histogram in excel if you are using Microsoft Excel 2013 or older.

Once you have added this tool in your excel from the web, it will be available in the DATA tab by the name ‘Data Analysis’. After that follow the steps to get the information in a histogram and then analyze it in excel as well. We will do this with a histogram example in which marks of 50 students are collected in a subject against their roll numbers.

Step 1: Enter data for 50 students in 2 rows with headings: roll number and marks.

Step 2: Decide the bin or the interval and fill in that column as well.

Step 3: Now click on the ‘data analysis’ tab and select ‘histogram’ from the list of options.

Step 4: A new dialogue box will appear with fields like Input range, Bin range, Label, and Output range.

Step 5: Fill in the values against each box. For input range, enter the cell number first and last cell address of the frequency column. In the chosen example, it will be the marks obtained by the students and the cell address is like B23. It is visible in the top left corner of the excel sheet once any cell is selected.

Step 6: Enter the first and last address of the bin column in the bin range input box.

Step 7: Check the ‘label’ box and enter the headings for the histogram.

Step 8: The ‘output range’ input box will contain the address of the cell where excel will produce the frequency table for your data.

Step 9: Check the ‘chart output’ option at the bottom of the box and click on ‘OK’. Your histogram will appear in the excel sheet.

Once you have completed all the steps mentioned above, feel proud that you now know how to make a histogram with a data analysis tool in excel.

How to Make a Histogram with Excel 2016

If that happens that you have been using one of the latest Excel by Microsoft & you want to learn how to analyze data in Excel then, here are the steps to be followed to generate the histogram for your data.

You do not have to add any add-in for the higher versions of Microsoft Excel because the histogram option has been made inbuilt given its demand and popularity. So here are the required steps:

Step 1: Create a dataset

Step 2: Select the entire dataset and click on the ‘INSERT’ tab.

Step 3: Then go to the ‘Chart’ section and click on ‘Insert Static Chart’ and select ‘Histogram’.

And that’s it. Your histogram will appear on the screen as required.

Types of Histograms

Apart from the fact that you want your data to be presented in a better readable format like a histogram, there are indeed several kinds of it to improve this presentation.

Though the histogram will still contain the same data, bars, and 2D format, the orientation of it marks all the difference.

Some of the most commonly known types of histograms are:

Normal Distribution Histogram

In this kind of histogram, there is an average point of the data present on the X-axis and the rest of the data equally occurs on each side of that point. This kind of distribution often forms a bell structure on the histogram.

Normal Distribution Histogram

Normal Distribution Histogram

Bimodal Distribution Histogram

In this kind of histogram, there are two peaks visible rather than just one. The most common observation for this distribution is like having two equally or close frequencies present in the dataset forming a double bell structure on the same histogram. The image below shows a bimodal distribution histogram.

Bimodal Distribution Histogram

Bimodal Distribution Histogram

If you are wondering how to make a histogram with bimodal distribution or in what cases it would fit, then take this example.

For a monthly salary histogram example, it can be possible that for two different salary ranges say 15,001 to 20,000 and 30,001 to 35,000 there are 3 employees in each range and hence producing the bimodal distribution histogram.

Right-Skewed Distribution Histogram

This distribution is also called the positively skewed distribution. What actually happens is that the dataset has a range of values which are falling towards the left side of the histogram rather than a more widespread distribution. An example of a right-skewed distribution histogram is shown below.

Right-Skewed Distribution Histogram

Right-Skewed Distribution Histogram

Left-Skewed Distribution Histogram

This distribution is also called the negatively skewed distribution. In this scenario, a large portion of the dataset falls towards the right side of the histogram just like the one shown below.

Left-Skewed Distribution Histogram

Left-Skewed Distribution Histogram

Random Distribution Histogram

Under this histogram type, there is not one of two modals present but multiple modals are presently giving the histogram a random structure like the one shown in the image below.

Random Distribution Histogram

Random Distribution Histogram

Indeed, there is a lot to learn when performing all these steps on an Excel sheet and getting to know about each of the deciding factor, the resultant histogram and the interpretation of the same.

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And the more you get to know about the histogram, its features and histograms examples, the more you learn about Microsoft Excel and tools as well. So continue learning and we will be here to make sure you get all the relevant information to get your anticipated type of histogram.

So, if you are also planning to build your career in data analytics to the next level, then you should enroll in the Certified Data Analytics Course.

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