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When to use bullet charts?

A bullet chart is a type of bar chart that resembles horizontal charts. Its main use is to visualize data progress by highlighting various shades of each color.

This chart type is useful for performance tracking of a single target, making it useful in compiling reports.

It’s easy to make this chart type as long as you don’t need complicated elements and shapes.

There is also an availability of templates that you can download online, making it very accessible overall.

What is a Bullet Chart?

The bullet chart was developed by Stephen Few, to replace traditional instrument panel gauges.

This chart type can contain more information compared to those previously mentioned gauges, without impairing context, and less graphic elements in use.

It also saves a lot of space on screen, as you can put all the information into a single bar.


The bullet chart’s variety of components provide a function that completes the diagram’s features. The following are components that can be inserted into any bullet chart.

Standard bullet chart/bullet graph according to Stephen Few

  • Text label – a key component that details what your chart is about;
  • Quantitative Scale – the current value of the numbers that complete your chart;
  • Comparative Measures – usually represented by a straight line containing the target value. It determines whether you hit the target depending on your starting and ending positions;
  • Highlighted Measure – bar that runs through the quantitative interval and determines the subject’s current performance;
  • Quantitative Scale – the background that runs throughout the chart.

Bullet Chart Examples

The bullet chart can be useful in many cases. There are many of their models available online. We have provided some of them here to help anyone who wants to use the chart type right now.

In general, using a template is more practical than creating one from scratch, saving you a lot of time. Also, not all of us are familiar with the components and creation process of a bullet chart.

That said, here are some examples to give you ideas and expand your creativity when visualizing data.

Monthly Income Model

Managers and businesses always need to keep track of their sales, and it’s a fact that anyone gets frustrated when they don’t reach their monthly profit target.

Therefore, it is important to follow these metrics and compare them at the end of the specified time period.

Knowing whether there are improvements to be made in order to raise sales performance that drive the profit target is essential for growth.

Website Annual Report Model

Websites provide various services to their visitors. Among them, there are those that offer downloadable content, like Spotify, where you can download songs and entire albums, if you are subscribed to the premium plan.

These sites can track download performance and report it back in an annual or monthly report. The above template is an example that you can include in your report, if this scenario applies to you.

Final Remarks

Although simple, the usefulness of this chart type is undeniable. It can provide important information in just a few bars and labels, with a compact visual layout.

With all this, there is no doubt that bullet charts are used in different branches and areas of activity. So, we hope that you have learned something about bullet charts and that you will use them according to your dataviz needs in the future.

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