Do 3D bar charts have advantages over 2D bar charts?


I vaguely remember that there was a study / blog post which made a strong point against 3D bar charts. Do you have a source at hand which compares the two - 2D bar charts and 3D bar charts?

Martin Thoma

Posted 2018-12-31T07:49:27.830

Reputation: 15 590

How about this simple study

– TwinPenguins – 2018-12-31T14:21:16.620

1I would only use 3D charts for 3D data and only in a presentation where the charts would be rotated to show some features of the data in 3D. Never static 3D charts and never 3D charts on 2-dimensional data. – Edmund – 2019-01-30T10:20:01.863



A relevant source seems to be

A Psychophysical analysis of chart readability, 2001

Sadly, I don't have access to it.


If you have an area chart, giving it a 3D-effect and rotating slightly can help readability. But I don't remember a context where you could not have used a line chart in the first place.

Bad sources

  • PRO: Looks good (
  • CON: Values are harder to read from the axes only - you need to add values to the bars themselves (

Martin Thoma

Posted 2018-12-31T07:49:27.830

Reputation: 15 590