I'm currently trying to show an average line to a stacked bar graph. I was thinking something along the lines of this:

Bar Graph with Average Line

My problem is that I want to show an average for a stacked bar graph, similar to the one shown:

Example Stacked Bar Graph

My idea was to have another bar that just has the averages of each of those stacks on the top, and the lines at the end of those bar goes down so that they are a good reference for each of those metrics. The obvious problem with that is that the bars don't line up so the lines would not be too meaningful except for the first one since it's the only one guaranteed to be aligned to the left. It is important that there is a metric to show total length, which is why I'm so stubborn with using something like a stacked bar graph and not just separating the bars into 3 separate lines, but I'm open to any ideas that are not stacked bar graphs (as long as they still show the total length).

I haven't found any sort of discussion like this online which is why I'm posting here. I'm just looking for ideas on ways to visualize this. Thanks in advance for any contributions!

If it helps, for my sake, there would only be three bars stacked on each other.

  • Question: Do you need to display averages by a line? How about numbers or some other method? Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 20:46
  • nope, I figured averages were best displayed with a line but am totally open to other methods to visualize/display this data
    – Bradass
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 23:37

1 Answer 1


I think you need to look at whether it makes sense to show an average for a stacked bar chart, and if it actually makes it easier to understand the information. Without knowing too much of the details, I would probably create a series of bar charts each with a subgroup average line and a group average line.

The way you arrange the bars can still allow of comparison between individual bars in a subgroup as well as across the whole group, while also highlighting the average values.

Note: image only shows design concept, the calculation of the averages are probably incorrect.

enter image description here

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