How to Create Charts in Excel

How to Create Charts in Excel – Most of the Excel users find charts as a time-consuming process. In fact, creating a chart is pretty simple. It just takes some practice to master it. So, to help you become expert in creating charts, this article will provide you with examples of excel spreadsheet charts that are very helpful for you.

We may use several graph types for different applications and scenarios. Different types of charts offer more advantages compared with others. This article provides you a brief introduction on excel charts and how to create them in excel.

A chart is a visual representative of data in both columns and rows. Charts are usually used to analyse trends and patterns in data sets. Let’s say you have been recording the sales figures in Excel for the past three years. Using charts, you can easily tell which year had the most sales and which year had the least. You can also draw charts to compare set targets against actual achievements.

We will use the following data for this tutorial.

Note: we will be using Excel 2013. If you have a lower version, then some of the more advanced features may not be available to you.

Item2012201320142015
Desktop Computers20121312
Laptops34454039
Monitors12101715
Printers78139014

Table of Contents

Types of Charts in MS Excel

Different scenarios require different types of charts. Towards this end, Excel provides a number of chart types that you can work with. The type of chart that you choose depends on the type of data that you want to visualize. To help simplify things for the users, Excel 2013 and above has an option that analyses your data and makes a recommendation of the chart type that you should use.

The following table shows some of the most commonly used Excel charts and when you should consider using them.

S/NCHART TYPEWHEN SHOULD I USE IT?EXAMPLE
1Pie ChartWhen you want to quantify items and show them as percentages.Visualizing data using charts in Excel
2Bar ChartWhen you want to compare values across a few categories. The values run horizontallyVisualizing data using charts in Excel
3Column chartWhen you want to compare values across a few categories. The values run verticallyVisualizing data using charts in Excel
4Line chartWhen you want to visualize trends over a period of time i.e. months, days, years, etc.Visualizing data using charts in Excel
5Combo ChartWhen you want to highlight different types of informationVisualizing data using charts in Excel

The importance of charts

  • Allows you to visualize data graphically
  • It’s easier to analyse trends and patterns using charts in MS Excel
  • Easy to interpret compared to data in cells

How to Create Charts in Excel

Steps

  1. Open Microsoft Excel. Its app icon resembles a green box with a white “X” on it.
  2. Click Blank workbook. It’s a white box in the upper-left side of the window.
  3. Consider the type of graph you want to make. There are three basic types of graph that you can create in Excel, each of which works best for certain types of data:[1]
    • Bar – Displays one or more sets of data using vertical bars. Best for listing differences in data over time or comparing two similar sets of data.
    • Line – Displays one or more sets of data using horizontal lines. Best for showing growth or decline in data over time.
    • Pie – Displays one set of data as fractions of a whole. Best for showing a visual distribution of data.
  4. Add your graph’s headers. The headers, which determine the labels for individual sections of data, should go in the top row of the spreadsheet, starting with cell B1 and moving right from there.
    • For example, to create a set of data called “Number of Lights” and another set called “Power Bill”, you would type Number of Lights into cell B1 and Power Bill into C1
    • Always leave cell A1 blank.
  5. Add your graph’s labels. The labels that separate rows of data go in the A column (starting in cell A2). Things like time (e.g., “Day 1”, “Day 2”, etc.) are usually used as labels.
    • For example, if you’re comparing your budget with your friend’s budget in a bar graph, you might label each column by week or month.
    • You should add a label for each row of data.
  6. Enter your graph’s data. Starting in the cell immediately below your first header and immediately to the right of your first label (most likely B2), enter the numbers that you want to use for your graph.
    • You can press the Tab ↹ key once you’re done typing in one cell to enter the data and jump one cell to the right if you’re filling in multiple cells in a row.
  7. Select your data. Click and drag your mouse from the top-left corner of the data group (e.g., cell A1) to the bottom-right corner, making sure to select the headers and labels as well.
  8. Click the Insert tab. It’s near the top of the Excel window. Doing so will open a toolbar below the Insert tab.
  9. Select a graph type. In the “Charts” section of the Insert toolbar, click the visual representation of the type of graph that you want to use. A drop-down menu with different options will appear.
    • bar graph resembles a series of vertical bars.
    • line graph resembles two or more squiggly lines.
    • pie graph resembles a sectioned-off circle.
  10. Select a graph format. In your selected graph’s drop-down menu, click a version of the graph (e.g., 3D) that you want to use in your Excel document. The graph will be created in your document.
    • You can also hover over a format to see a preview of what it will look like when using your data.
  11. Add a title to the graph. Double-click the “Chart Title” text at the top of the chart, then delete the “Chart Title” text, replace it with your own, and click a blank space on the graph.
    • On a Mac, you’ll instead click the Design tab, click Add Chart Element, select Chart Title, click a location, and type in the graph’s title.[2]
  12. Save your document. To do so:
    • Windows – Click File, click Save As, double-click This PC, click a save location on the left side of the window, type the document’s name into the “File name” text box, and click Save.
    • Mac – Click File, click Save As…, enter the document’s name in the “Save As” field, select a save location by clicking the “Where” box and clicking a folder, and click Save.

Conclusion

Creating charts in Excel is easy. You can use them for creating beautiful representation of data to present it to others. Charts are used for analysis, forecasting, presentations, etc.

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