Monthly Archives: October 2014

Explaining Bar-mekkos

Similar to the Marimekko, the Bar-mekko is a two-dimensional chart where the area of each segment is of interest. Other terms used for this type of chart include skyline chart, variable-width column graph and variwide chart. Unlike the Marimekko, the Bar-mekko does not require a 100% axis which means not all columns have to be the same height. This enables the Bar-mekko to effectively communicate two different variables.

One typical example are Bar-mekkos that show profit pools where the y-axis represents a gross or operating profit margin and the x-axis represents the revenue. In the example below, we use the Bar-mekko to examine Microsoft’s different business units (source: 2013 earnings release).

Bar-mekko showing profit pools

Bar-mekko or skyline chart

The reader can quickly see which units bring in the most revenue represented by the widest segments as well as which ones provide the greatest operating margin, namely the tallest segments. Since multiplying revenue and margin results in the operating income or loss, it is also easy to see which ones provide the greatest operating income by identifying the segments with largest areas.

Similar to the Marimekko, Aploris also lets users quickly create Bar-mekko charts. Users, either on Mac or PC, can toggle between Bar-mekkos and Marimekkos by turning on the 100% axis property or turning it off to switch back from Marimekko to Bar-mekko.