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Can changes to the vertical scale or interval affect the look of a bar or line graph?

Mindee Nelson

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Theresa Perry on March 5, 2019

Yes, the change of the vertical scale will affect the way the graph looks. To see examples, go to one of the financial web sites on Google or Yahoo and pick a few stock charts. If you are looking for in an intraday chart (activity that happened during a day), the price may vary a dollar or less, but can be seen jumping all over the place. This is because the scale can be set to start at $50 per share (minimum value of the vertical scale) up to $55 maximum. To change the scale of zero to $60 and you'll be able to see a graph that looks more like a smooth line (the changes won't look as dramatic or strong). Another way to change the scale is the use of a logarithmic scale (where each step represents 10 times the previous step). This is useful in graphs that represent exponential growth or decay. In a standard scale, the graph can be seen as a sharp increase, then leveling off. On a logarithmic scale, the same data is plotted it can look more like a straight line.


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