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Generating column and line charts with Report Builder 3.0

From a creation standpoint, line and column charts are very similar to bar charts in Report Builder. Still, there are certain nuances that can yield the best results for each type.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Parts one and two broke down the process of creating charts in Report Builder 3.0 – specifically bar charts for enhanced data visualization. Two other common chart types are column and line charts. Part three explains how to add both to SSRS reports.

Adding a column chart to a report

A column chart is similar to a bar chart except that the vertical axis and horizontal axis have been switched. I switched from the bar chart to column chart by right-clicking the bar chart in design view and clicking Change Chart Type. I then selected the 3-D Clustered Cylinder column chart, as shown in Figure 10.

Figure 10 (click to enlarge)

For many charts, you can switch from one type to the other without having to make too many changes. In this case, the only changes I made were to reposition the chart so it worked better with the new style, and changed the sort order of the category groups back to its default (A to Z). Now the rendered report displays the new chart type, as shown in Figure 11.

Figure 11 (click to enlarge)

Notice that the column chart is wider and shorter than the bar chart, and the months are displayed in alphabetical order from left to right. However, the chart for the most part retained the same property settings as the original bar chart.

Adding a line chart to a report

You can just as easily switch to a line chart. Figure 12 shows a basic line chart that I switched to from the column chart. The only change I made was to modify the Line Width property of the series properties. I changed the width to 2 points (from the default 1 point). You can find the Line Width property on the Border page of the Series Properties dialog box.

Figure 12 (click to enlarge)

Although switching to a line chart from a column or bar chart is quite simple, the differences in how the charts are rendered can seem dramatic. Figure 13 shows the report for 2007, as it's rendered with a line chart.

Figure 13 (click to enlarge)

To me, this report seems less cluttered and simpler to read. It includes all the same information, and you can even hover over the data points to retrieve the specific aggregated value for that month. Of course, picking a chart can be a fairly subjective call, but it's important to keep in mind that your goal is to present the most concise information in the simplest way possible so users can quickly get the information they need.

Continue to part four



 Part 1: Adding charts
 Part 2: Creating bar charts
 Part 3: Generating column and line charts
 Part 4: Using range charts
 Part 5: Utilizing shape charts


Robert Sheldon is a technical consultant and the author of numerous books, articles, and training material related to Microsoft Windows, various relational database management systems, and business intelligence design and implementation. You can find more information at

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