Pictures speak louder than words. Visual elements convey a lot of information quickly and effectively.
In 2025, the total amount of data is predicted to grow to 180 zettabytes. It is thought that Excel spreadsheet use will continue to grow, and the data included might become too overwhelming to consume as it contains a lot of meaning and inferences. When presented as graphs and charts, it shows progress, compares current and past data and reveals patterns that can be used to make decisions.
Excel graphs convert raw data into a visually appealing tool that is easy to digest and helps business analysts use data to predict outcomes.
In this article, how to make a graph in Excel, you will learn how to create different graphs and charts with step-by-step guidelines and examples.
What Is a Graph in Excel?
Graphs and charts in Excel are graphical representations of variations in data. They are practical visual tools used to present information quickly and easily. They can be used to represent changes compared to one or more variables.
It may be easier to understand data when presented in a graph or chart rather than a table because it can reveal a trend or comparison. Excel graphs help display the relationship between variables or show the value spread of a given variable or phenomenon.
This section aims to describe the graphs that are most often used to visualize data. Graphs and charts can be used in different contexts, such as the heat map, treemap, bubble chart, area chart, radar chart, and Gantt chart.
Creating Different Types of Graphs and Charts in Excel
Excel provides various graphs and charts for multiple purposes. Let’s look into each of these. Data visualization is essential for businesses as it helps you:
- Track progress, analyze your stumbling blocks and work to overcome them.
- Present to the team, stakeholders, and audience with goal progress.
- Gather and organize your data.
Having a data table is the prerequisite to making a graph in Excel. First, create a table, select the cells with the data, go to the Insert tab in the Charts group, and choose any desired graphs or chart templates. Microsoft Excel has different types of graphs for each purpose.
|Column or Bar Chart||This chart helps to compare values across a few different categories visually.|
|Pie or Doughnut Chart||This chart shows the proportions of a whole. It is best to use it when your numbers equal 100%.|
|Line or Area Chart||This shows trends over time (years, months, and days) or as categories.|
|Scatter (X, Y) or Bubble Chart||This chart shows the relationship between sets of values.|
|Hierarchy Chart||This chart compares parts to a whole or when several columns of categories form a hierarchy.|
|Statistic Chart||This shows a statistical analysis of your data.|
|Waterfall, Funnel, Stock, Surface, or Radar|
|Combo Chart||This chart highlights different types of information when a range of values varies, or you have mixed data types.|
Bar Graph in Excel
Using bar graphs in Excel can help you compare data in two or more columns or track changes over time. Bar graphs are most useful when showing changes and comparing them against other groups.
In the example below, a table with data is created for which you can create a bar graph to look at its progress visually.
Instead of selecting the table and then inserting the chart, you can insert the chart, then right-click on the graph and choose Select Data. The Select Data Source window opens, where you can select the chart data range and mention the cell address. The simplest way is to select the table, choose Insert → Charts, and select a template.
Your graph is created to display the names and marks obtained in the respective subjects, and various colours are chosen to differentiate the subjects.
After this, you can still manipulate the data to convey different meanings to the viewer. Right-click on the graph and select Change Chart Type to change it to other formats. Or, you can choose Select Data and click Select Data Source, where you can change the rows and columns and delete, edit, or add another column to the graph.
Additionally, you can include a chart title, chart elements, chart styles, and chart filters to make the graph more appealing to the viewers.
Line Graph in Excel
Line graph is used with different categories of data to reveal trends or progress over time. This graph best suits data sets that have continuous values. It reveals changes over short and long periods of time.
You can compare the differences in two different data groups and also see how two different groups are related to each other. Businesses may use this type of graph for their sales of different products over different time periods.
To create a line graph in Microsoft Excel, follow these steps:
Step 1: Open a new or existing Excel document and select the data you want to use for your line graph.
Step 2: Click the Insert tab and select Line chart from the chart group.
Step 3: Select the type of line chart you want to create (e.g., 2-D Line, Stacked Line, 3-D Line).
Step 4: Your line chart will be inserted into your spreadsheet, with the data series and axis labels automatically added.
Step 5: You can customize your line chart by selecting it and using the options in the Format tab on the ribbon. For example, you can change the colours of the lines, add data markers, change the axis labels, or add a title to your chart.
Step 6: To format your data series, right-click on a line in your chart and select Format Data Series. Here you can change the line colour, weight, and style.
Step 7: To format the axis right-click on the axis labels and select Format Axis. Here you can change the labels, minimum and maximum values, and add gridlines.
Step 8: Once you have customized the line graph to your liking, you can save it as a template for future use by right-clicking and selecting Save as Template.
That’s all there is to it! With these simple steps, you can create a professional-looking line graph in Microsoft Excel in no time.
It is also referred to as a scatter chart or scatter graph and uses dots to represent values for two numeric data sets.
The variables are plotted as dots on the horizontal and vertical axes of the graph. Scatter plots show relationships between two different data sets. These graphs are commonly used to show the correlation between two variables and can be used to identify patterns and trends in the data.
They are a useful tool for visualizing data in Excel and can help you quickly identify relationships and correlations between two data sets. This can be useful for making predictions about future trends based on past data, and understanding the relationship between variables in your data set.
To create a scatter plot in Excel, follow these steps:
Step 1: Open a new or existing Excel spreadsheet and select the data you want to display in the scatter plot.
Step 2: Click the “Insert” tab in the ribbon and select the Scatter chart type.
Step 3: Select the desired style from the available options.
Step 4: If you want to customize the look of the scatter plot, you can use the “Format” tab in the ribbon to adjust the axis labels, gridlines, data markers, and other elements.
Step 5: You can also add trendlines and error bars to the scatter plot to make it easier to understand the data.
Step 6: Once you have completed your scatter plot, you can save it as an image, copy it to another program, or print it directly from Excel.
A pie chart in Microsoft Excel is a type of chart used to represent the proportions of different categories of data. It is circular and divided into slices that represent each category. The size of each piece is proportional to the relative value it represents.
To create a pie chart in Excel, follow these steps:
Step 1: Open a new or existing Excel spreadsheet and select the data that you want to display in the pie chart.
Step 2: Click the Insert tab in the ribbon and select the Pie chart type.
Step 3: Select the desired style from the available options.
Step 4: If you want to customize the look of the pie chart, you can use the Format tab in the ribbon to adjust the colour scheme, data labels, and other elements.
Step 5: You can also add a title and legend to the pie chart to make it easier to understand the data.
Step 6: Once you have completed your pie chart, you can save it as an image, copy it to another program, or print it directly from Excel.
Pie charts are helpful tools for visualizing data in Excel and can be especially useful for representing the distribution of categories within a larger data set. They can help you quickly understand the relative proportions of different categories and are especially useful for comparing the data to whole or other categories.
An area chart combines the line chart and bar chart to show how one or more groups’ numeric values change over the progression of a second variable, typically that of time. An area chart is distinguished from a line chart by adding shading between lines and a baseline, like in a bar chart.
An area chart, in Microsoft Excel, is a type of chart used to display data over time, with the values being plotted on the y-axis and the time period on the x-axis. The area between the line and the x-axis is filled with colour, making it easier to understand the data and see trends.
To create an area chart in Excel, follow these steps:
Step 1: Open a new or existing Excel spreadsheet and select the data you want to display in the area chart.
Step 2: Click the Insert tab in the ribbon and select the Area chart type.
Step 3: Select the desired area chart style from the available options.
Step 4: If you want to customize the look of the area chart, you can use the Format tab in the ribbon to adjust the axis labels, gridlines, data markers, and other elements.
Step 5: You can also add labels, trendlines, and error bars to the area chart to make it easier to understand the data.
Step 6: Once you have completed your area chart, you can save it as an image, copy it to another program, or print directly from Excel.
Area charts are a helpful tool for visualizing data in Excel and can help you quickly understand the trends and patterns in your data. They are useful for showing changes in data over time and comparing multiple data series. The filled area in the chart also makes it easier to understand the relative magnitude of the data at any given time.
1. How to make a bar graph in Excel?
Step 1: Select the table or the data for which you want to create a bar graph.
Step 2: Click the Insert tab and select the ‘Charts’ group.
Step 3: Choose the bar graph in the menu.
Step 4: Use the Chart Elements, Chart Styles, and Chart Filters buttons next to the upper-right corner of the chart to add chart elements, like axis titles or data labels, customize the look of your chart, or change the data that is shown in the chart.
2. What are the most commonly used graphs in Excel?
The most common type of charts used are:
- Column or Bar Chart
- Line or Area Charts
- Pie Charts
- Hierarchy Chart
- Statistic Chart,
- Scatter Charts
3. What is the difference between a graph and a chart in Excel?
Graphs depict the changing trend in the data over time. Typically, a graph has a horizontal line (x-axis), a vertical line (y-axis), and a line or a curve exhibiting the relationship between plotted data points.
Whereas charts represent large data sets, helping the user to understand them better, which helps to analyze the current data and predict future trends or sales based on the present data pattern.
Excel is a tool that stores data, performs calculations, manipulates the results in graphs, charts, and reports, and presents them in a way that’s easy to understand and comprehend.
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