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Not a guru, but that link does explain it, in all its relative rube goldberginess.
draw a rectangle for the column, color it etc; using the text tool, type % and then 0 followed by a digit that represents how many numbers you wish to appear after the decimal (%03 would get you 4.123 for instance); format the text as you will; place the text where you want it relative to the rectangle; group the rectangle and the text; select design under object>graph; make new design.
make graph; enter data; close data window; select graph; under object>graph>column select column design and column type (I like sliding the best)
You can color individual columns using direct select tool.
Excel probably works better
Thanks so much for the translation from the Adobe instructions. But using this setup distorts the bars vertically, even though the correct data number displays above the column. It looks like the bar gets smooshed vertically to fit in the data label, but the top of the bar is no longer hitting at the right point on the y axis. And with negative numbers, the data label is reflected, thus reading backwards when applying the column design. Any insights? I tried every which way, every option in the column design drop downs, and there's no magic combination.
I am not at computer with Illustrator but this is what I would try.
One leaving a space between the top of the rectangle and input text or
drawing another rectangle with no fill and no stroke and placing that between the rectangle and the text input.
did you ever get resolution on this issue? I am having the exact same problems and am stumped!
put the numbers inside the rectangle of the graph before making it into a 'design'