The best way to Create Excel Charts and Graphs


Excel charts and graphs are tried-and-true instruments for visualizing knowledge clearly and understandably. However for many who are usually not native tech gurus, it may be a bit intimidating to poke round in Microsoft Excel.

business presentation on how to make a chart or graph in excel tutorial

I’m right here to share the foundational data you want, useful video tutorials, and step-by-step directions for anybody feeling like they’re in over their heads.

Organizing a spreadsheet full of information into an correct and engaging chart isn’t sorcery — you are able to do it! Let’s go over the method from A to Z.

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What an Excel Chart or Graph is — and Why to Use Them

The very first thing to know is you can create several types of charts and graphs within the software program.

The distinctive data in your knowledge set(s) and the viewers you might be speaking to are components that go into selecting the suitable chart or graph in your venture, so let’s chat charts.

However why use them? Do you want to visualise knowledge when you’ll be able to simply clarify it? The reply is often sure if you wish to assist an viewers perceive and retain the related findings.

I’ll always remember a selected graph from a TED discuss I noticed on parenting taboos — and I’ve by no means seen something play out so precisely in my very own life, both:

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This chart from Rufus Griscom + Alisa Volkman exhibits a imply line of happiness in blue and extra of a moment-by-moment breakdown in yellow of the information factors that construct the imply you see.

The highs and lows are usually much less erratic throughout single maturity as a result of you could have extra management over your surroundings and circumstances, they clarify, however upon getting children? Chaos.

They joked about Grand, explosive moments of affection accompanied by mind-numbing, soul-punching lows — often round bedtime routines. (It’s no joke.)

From this, we are able to glean that it’s all the time a good suggestion to distill the data into one thing visually digestible so you’ll be able to talk clearly and effectively.

The very last thing you need is to lose your goal’s consideration in a sea of incomprehensible numbers.

Particularly for big knowledge units, an Excel chart or graph will get to the center of your findings in a approach that’s straightforward to see and perceive at a single look, particularly once you incorporate comparisons.

In case your knowledge has a couple of discovering to speak — reminiscent of a comparability or if you wish to illustrate adjustments happening over time — Excel charts and graphs provide a number of choices for creating impactful visuals.

By the top, you’ll have some concepts about which charts may show you how to inform the tales contained inside your knowledge.


The 18 Forms of Charts in Excel (So Far)

Whew, Microsoft has been busy! Final I did a deep dive, there have been solely 9 forms of charts, so it has doubled in the last few years — which is good news for analysis communicators.

While you perceive their makes use of, you’ll be able to current materials optimized to be extremely useful and insightful in your staff’s tasks.

We’ll go over the very best, tried-and-true choices totally. Then, on the finish, I’ll briefly summarize the superior chart sorts and people who might not be as helpful to entrepreneurs.

Excel Charts Most Helpful to Entrepreneurs

1. Space Chart

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Excel space charts mean you can see tendencies over time — or another related variable. It’s primarily a line graph with colored-in sections emphasizing development and giving a way of quantity.

You too can use stacked space charts. This denser space chart lets you present extra data without delay, reminiscent of evaluating tendencies in a number of classes or monitoring adjustments throughout totally different variables.

Finest for: Demonstrating the magnitude of a pattern between two or extra values over a given interval.

2. The New and Improved Bar Graph (Now Referred to as a Clustered Bar Graph)

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An Excel bar graph represents data horizontally and compares totally different knowledge collection. You may simply see the proportions between numerous classes or parts of your knowledge.

As an illustration, you should utilize clustered bar graphs to check the gross sales of various merchandise, for instance, in different retailer areas over months or quarters.

This might help you perceive which merchandise promote effectively in several geographies throughout the identical time-frame.

Finest for: Evaluating the frequency of comparable values between totally different variables.

3. Ditto for Column Charts (Renamed Clustered Column Charts)

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Column charts are just like bar graphs, however they differ in a single important approach: they’re vertical, not horizontal. The vertical orientation lends itself to serving to viewers rank totally different knowledge parts.

Like bar graphs, column charts examine knowledge, show tendencies, and present proportions.

As an illustration, if you wish to rank your gross sales groups’ numbers in several states throughout 1 / 4, you’ll be able to visualize them in a clustered column chart and see which staff in every state is within the lead — the tallest within the cluster. 

You too can see which staff is main amongst all states — the tallest amongst all clusters.

Finest for: Displaying numerous knowledge parts over a while to rank them visually.

Professional tip: I’ve personally discovered that column charts displaying T-bars of statistical significance are extraordinarily helpful in serving to folks in management dispel probably however finally unfaithful interpretations of information.

Typically, knowledge displaying significant change remains to be inside regular parameters. Typically, what looks like a slight distinction is important.

Managers and administrators could need assistance seeing these realities so that they don’t oversteer at resolution time.

4. Line Graph

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A line graph is an easy however extremely efficient strategy to see tendencies over time at a look — even with out the frills of bars, columns, or additional shading. You too can examine a number of knowledge collection.

As an illustration, the variety of natural visits from Google versus Bing over a 12-month interval.

You too can see the speed or pace at which the information set adjustments. In our Google vs. Bing instance, a steep incline would imply you had a sudden spike in natural visitors. A extra gradual decline signifies that your visitors is slowly lowering.

Finest for: Illustrating tendencies over time, reminiscent of spikes or drops in gross sales resulting from holidays, climate, or different variables.

5. Pie Chart

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A pie chart is a useful approach of seeing how totally different knowledge parts proportionally examine to 1 one other. Curious what share of your natural visitors is from Google versus Bing?

Or how a lot market share do you could have in comparison with rivals? A pie chart is a becoming strategy to visualize that data.

It’s additionally a good way to see and talk progress towards a selected aim.

As an illustration, in case your aim is to promote a product day by day for 30 days in a row, then you definitely would possibly create a pie chart with 30 slices and shade a slice every day you promote the product.

Finest for: Displaying values as percentages of a complete and viewing knowledge parts proportionately.

6. Radar Chart

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A radar chart would possibly look acquainted to you should you’ve ever taken a persona check, nevertheless it’s additionally helpful outdoors of that trade. Radar charts show knowledge in a closed, multi-pointed form.

Every level known as a spoke, and a number of variables “pull” spokes of the form. Then, shapes will be stacked up for comparability.

The sort of chart is well-designed for evaluating totally different knowledge parts, reminiscent of attributes, entities, folks, strengths, or weaknesses. It additionally helps you see the distribution of your knowledge and perceive if it is overly skewed a technique or one other.

Finest for: Evaluating the combination values of a number of knowledge collection without delay.

7. Scatter Plot

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Scatter plots look just like line graphs however with one important distinction: They consider the connection between two variables, proven on the X- and Y-axes. This lets you determine correlations and patterns between them.

As an illustration, you would possibly examine the quantity of natural visitors (X-axis) with the variety of leads and signups (Y-axis).

If you happen to see an upward pattern within the dots the place these two converge, then you definitely’ll have an thought of how a rise in natural visitors impacts your leads and signups.

You probably have a leads/signups aim, you’ll be able to then create a extra data-driven plan for growing your natural visitors.

You may even take it a step additional to check the variety of leads and signups with every day gross sales or conversions to maintain extra packages on data-driven paths.

Finest for: Visualizing constructive or unfavorable relationships between two variables.

8. Funnel Chart

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Funnel charts are extraordinarily well-suited to entrepreneurs who wish to optimize processes and pipelines.

Within the picture above, it’s clear that you simply drop essentially the most candidates between Certified Prospects and Wants Evaluation, in order that portion of your funnel could also be fascinating to look into extra deeply to know why.

Finest for: Visually representing adjustments by way of processes helps to make clear the place the largest adjustments happen alongside the way in which.

Professional tip: My expertise has taught me that should you solely use two ranges — particularly if there’s not an incredible change between them, it’s straightforward to mistake this for a bar graph, which features fully otherwise.

You’ll undoubtedly wish to use a minimum of three ranges so it’s extra clearly distinguished as a funnel form.

9. Histogram Chart

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Histograms are a strong choice once you wish to clarify knowledge that happens most usefully in ranges. Let’s say that you simply wish to present your shoppers the shopping for habits of varied age demographics in your product area of interest.

Chances are you’ll discover that your target market has moved, probably even jumped a variety up or down.

In case your shopper has offered child merchandise for the final 100 years, you’d undoubtedly see that the target market of first-time dad and mom is getting older as folks wait longer to have kids.

This will change your advertising and marketing methods to fulfill the wants and problems with this older first-time mother or father demographic.

Finest for: Demonstrating knowledge findings which can be most noticeable and helpful when the information is grouped in ranges.


Superior Excel Charts

It’s sensible so that you can know that the next chart sorts exist, however they might not be the very best place to begin should you arrived right here right now a bit overwhelmed.

They’re extra sophisticated and higher suited to audiences who can already learn advanced-level charts:

Business-Particular Excel Charts

The remaining Excel chart sorts don’t usually lend themselves to advertising and marketing. However, hey — in case your area of interest requires it, these charts are there to help you:

Summarizing the Charts

That was a ton of data. If you happen to’re nonetheless undecided which to decide on, right here’s a concise comparability of the Excel charts I discover to be most helpful to entrepreneurs:

Sort of Chart



Space charts display the magnitude of a pattern between two or extra values over a given interval.


Clustered bar charts examine the frequency of values throughout totally different ranges or variables.


Clustered column charts show knowledge adjustments over a time frame to clarify visualizations of rank amongst knowledge units.


Much like bar charts, they illustrate tendencies over time.


Pie charts present values as percentages of a complete.


Radar charts examine the combination worth of a number of knowledge collection.


Scatter charts present the constructive or unfavorable relationship between two variables.


Funnel charts excel at visualizing adjustments to 1 knowledge level over numerous processes.


Histograms present variations in knowledge which can be finest represented as a variety of values.

If you happen to’re searching for a deeper dive that will help you work out which kind of chart/graph is finest for visualizing your knowledge, take a look at our free e book, The best way to Use Knowledge Visualization to Win Over Your Viewers.

The best way to Create a Graph in Excel

The steps to construct a chart or graph in Excel are comparatively easy. I encourage you to observe the step-by-step directions beneath or obtain them as PDFs if that’s extra environment friendly for you.

A lot of the buttons and features you may see and browse are very related throughout all variations of Excel.

Obtain Demo Knowledge | Obtain Directions (Mac) | Obtain Directions (PC)

Featured Useful resource: Free Excel Graph Templates

Earlier than we soar in, it’s time for an additional professional tip. You needn’t begin from scratch. You’re welcome to make use of these free Excel Graph Mills. Simply enter your knowledge and alter as wanted for a wonderful knowledge visualization.

It’s an incredible time-saver should you don’t want one thing as customized as constructing your Excel charts and graphs up from zero.

While you do must create and customise from the very begin, right here’s the right way to deal with it:

1. Enter your knowledge into Excel.

First, it’s good to enter your knowledge into Excel. You may need exported the information from elsewhere, like a bit of advertising and marketing software program or a survey instrument — or possibly you are inputting it manually from spreadsheets. I don’t choose!

Within the instance beneath, in Column A, I’ve an inventory of responses to the query, “Did inbound advertising and marketing display ROI?” and in Columns B, C, and D, I’ve the responses to the query, “Does your organization have a proper sales-marketing settlement?”

For instance, Column C, Row 2 illustrates that 49% of individuals with a service stage settlement (SLA) additionally say that inbound advertising and marketing demonstrated ROI.

2. Select from the graph and chart choices.

In Excel, your choices for charts and graphs embody column (or bar) graphs, line graphs, pie graphs, scatter plots, and extra. See how Excel identifies every one within the prime navigation bar, as depicted beneath:

To search out the chart and graph choices, choose Insert.

3. Spotlight your knowledge and insert your required graph into the spreadsheet.

On this instance, a bar graph presents the information visually. To make a bar graph, spotlight the information and embody the titles of the X- and Y-axis. Then, go to the Insert tab and click on the column icon within the charts part.

Select the graph you want from the dropdown window that seems.

I picked the primary two-dimensional column choice as a result of I favor the flat bar graphic over the three-dimensional look. See the ensuing bar graph beneath.

Nonetheless, if I had been reporting statistics about skyscrapers to a builder’s union, I’d undoubtedly choose the three-dimensional look to customise the chart to seem like constructed constructions.

There are optimization selections to make alongside the way in which to finest suit your knowledge and viewers.

4. Swap the information on every axis, if essential.

If you wish to swap what seems on the X and Y axis, right-click on the bar graph, click on Choose Knowledge, and click on Swap Row/Column. This may rearrange which axes carry which items of information within the listing proven beneath.

Typically, you’ll see that your data simply presents higher a technique versus the opposite. On this case, I feel the primary X and Y orientation is simpler and easier to know.

Take into account, although, that it’s not about me.

If the presentation focuses on SLAs and government choices on whether or not or to not safe one, a Sure/No SLA configuration (the second XY orientation) is probably going a greater match for the viewers and their wants. When completed, click on OK on the backside.

The ensuing graph would seem like this:

5. Modify your knowledge’s format and colours.

To alter the labeling format and legend, click on on the bar graph, then click on the Chart Design tab. Right here, you’ll be able to select which format you favor for the chart title, axis titles, and legend.

In my instance beneath, I clicked on the choice that displayed softer bar colours and legends beneath the chart.

To additional format the legend, click on on it to disclose the Format Legend Entry sidebar, as proven beneath. Right here, you’ll be able to change the fill coloration of the legend, which is able to change the colour of the columns themselves.

To format different elements of your chart, click on on them individually to disclose a corresponding Format window.

6. Change the dimensions of your chart’s legend and axis labels.

While you first make a graph in Excel, the dimensions of your axis and legend labels is likely to be small, relying on the graph or chart you select (bar, pie, line, and so on.)

When you‘ve created your chart, you’ll wish to measurement these labels up so that they’re legible.

To extend the dimensions of your graph’s labels, click on on them individually and, as a substitute of unveiling a brand new Format window, click on again into the Residence tab within the prime navigation bar of Excel.

Then, use the font sort and measurement dropdown fields to broaden or shrink your chart’s legend and axis labels to your liking.

7. Change the Y-axis measurement choices if desired

To alter the kind of measurement proven on the Y-axis, click on on the Y-axis percentages in your chart. This reveals the Format Axis window.

Right here, you’ll be able to resolve if you wish to show models positioned on the Axis Choices tab. You may change whether or not the Y-axis exhibits percentages to 2 decimal locations or no decimal locations.

As a result of my graph mechanically units the Y axis’ most share to 60%, you would possibly wish to change it manually to 100% to symbolize knowledge on a common scale.

To take action, you’ll be able to choose the Most choice — two fields down beneath Bounds within the Format Axis window — and alter the worth from 0.6 to 1.

The ensuing graph will seem like the one beneath (On this instance, the font measurement of the Y-axis has been elevated by way of the Residence tab as a way to see the distinction):

8. Reorder your knowledge, if desired.

To type the information so the respondents’ solutions seem in reverse order, right-click in your graph and click on Choose Knowledge to disclose the identical choices window you referred to as up in Step 3 above.

This time, arrow up and all the way down to reverse the order of your knowledge on the chart.

You probably have greater than two strains of information to regulate, you too can rearrange them in ascending or descending order. To do that, spotlight your whole knowledge within the cells above your chart, click on Knowledge, and choose Kind, as proven beneath.

Relying in your choice, you’ll be able to select to type primarily based on smallest to largest or vice versa.

The ensuing graph would seem like this, which is tremendously higher. Why? As a result of it exhibits your viewers the development of outcomes and turns into visually persuasive.

9. Title your graph.

Now comes the enjoyable and straightforward half: naming your graph. By now, you may need already found out how to do that. This is a easy clarifier.

Proper after making your chart, the title that seems will probably be “Chart Title” or one thing related, relying on the model of Excel you‘re utilizing. To alter this label, click on on “Chart Title” to disclose a typing cursor.

You may then freely customise your chart’s title.

When you could have a title you want, click on Residence on the highest navigation bar, and use the font formatting choices to offer your title the emphasis it deserves. See these choices and my last graph beneath:

10. Export your graph or chart.

As soon as your Excel chart or graph is strictly the way in which you need it, it can save you it as a picture with out screenshotting it within the spreadsheet.

This technique offers you a clear picture of your chart that may be inserted right into a PowerPoint presentation, Canva doc, or another visible template.

To save lots of your Excel graph as a photograph, right-click on the graph and choose Save as Image.

Within the dialogue field, title the picture of your graph, select the place to reserve it in your laptop, and select the file sort you’d like to reserve it as. On this instance, it’s saved as a JPEG to a desktop folder. Lastly, click on Save.

You’ll have a transparent picture of your graph or chart you can add to any visible design.

Visualize Knowledge Like A Professional

Prepared for one last step to make this complete course of quicker? Now you can swap your knowledge into numerous graph sorts — like a pie chart or line graph — to shortly and extra simply decide what format finest tells the story of your knowledge.

Right here’s the way you do it:

Step 1. Choose the chart.

Take a look at your Excel chart or graph to discover a clean spot inside it. Click on on a clean spot. As soon as the chart is highlighted throughout the border, you’ll realize it’s chosen.

Step 2. Proper-click or go to the Chart Design tab.

As soon as the chart is chosen, the ribbon above will present a Chart Design tab. You may go click on on that or just right-click your chosen chart to avoid wasting time. Both approach, you’ll see numerous chart choices to select from.

Step 3. Change the chart sort.

When the chart choices pop up — both on the ribbon or beneath your cursor should you right-clicked — you’ll subsequent click on Change Chart Sort. A menu will pop up with quite a lot of chart sort choices on the left.

To the fitting will probably be a visible instance of the chart sort you click on on.

Step 4. Store in your chart.

The final bit is essentially the most enjoyable! You may click on the Really useful Charts tab or the All Charts tab and begin clicking your approach down the listing of chart sorts. As you see ones that curiosity you, click on the Okay button.

Your initially chosen chart will change sorts earlier than your eyes. Give it a glance and ensure all the information and labels make sense to you. Nonetheless curious?

Choose your chart once more and repeat the method to see your knowledge on as many forms of charts as you’d like.

No sorcery, as promised. Hold these step-by-step tutorials helpful. You’ll have the ability to create charts and graphs that shortly, cleanly, and clearly visualize your knowledge for presentation.

Editor’s observe: This submit was initially printed in June 2018 and has been up to date for comprehensiveness.

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