How To Make A Graph In Excel

Graphs can be extremely useful when attempting to map out large amounts of data in an easy-to-follow format. While graphs can help simplify things and are a great tool when presenting data, creating and formatting graphs correctly can seem daunting. Our experts are here to streamline the process for you.

How To Make Graphs In Excel

The two most popular types of graphs are bar graphs and line graphs. As its name suggests, bar graphs will use either the height or width of bars to represent the numerical values they are representing. Bar graphs are best used to compare and contrast varying data. Line graphs will use lines connected by a series of data points to track changes in values shown. Line graphs are best used to track changes in data over both shorter and longer periods of time.

How To Make A Bar Graph In Excel

  1. The first step toward making a bar graph in Excel is making sure to input your data. For example, if you are trying to compare the amount of patients seen in each quarter, label each column – first, second, third, and fourth quarter, and input the total number of patients per quarter underneath each header.
  2. Simply select all your inputted data and click the Insert button to choose a bar graph. You have the option for both two-dimensional and three-dimensional bar graphs, as well as vertical or horizontal bars. Once you have made your selection, you will then see your data immediately displayed in a bar graph chart.
  3. If you do not like the appearance of your bar graph, you will see a Chart Design toolbar displayed at the top of your Excel workbook page. You can toggle between the various designs of Excel charts to choose the one that best suits your data. Additionally, you can also select the Change Colors icon located on the left of the chart designs for an array of color scheme options.
  4. If you need to change the position of your bar graph, simply left click on any white area in the graph and drag it around the page as needed for proper placement.
  5. To name your bar graph, click on the Chart Title field displayed above your graph.

How To Make A Line Graph In Excel

  1. The first step toward making a line graph will be the same as it will be for the creation of any graph. Make sure to input the data into as many columns or rows as you require. For instance, if you are trying to show the trend of sales per month, label each column – January, February, March, etcetera, and input the amount of sales per month underneath each.
  2. You can then select all your data and click the Insert button to choose a line graph. Towards the top of the Excel workbook page, you can toggle between the options displayed for various types and styles of line graphs. You can choose between simple line graphs or line graphs with markers to better highlight the differences you are attempting to show.
  3. Once you have chosen your desired line graph, you can select the Change Colors icon located to the left of the chart design options you have just perused.
  4. Once again, if you would like to change the position of your line graph, simply left click on any white area in the graph to drag it around the page.
  5. Click on Chart Title to name your line graph.

Creating Additional Graph & Chart Types In Excel

While bar graphs and line graphs may be the two of the more popular graph types, Excel offers other useful graph options as well. Pie graphs, stacked area graphs, scatter graphs, and waterfall graphs are just a handful of the graphs available at your disposal. The steps remain the same. Once you have inputted your data, click Insert and select your desired graph type. Any customizations you would like to make can be done via the Chart Design toolbar.

How To Plot Multiple Line Graphs In Excel

What if you would like to compare two different sets of data in one graph? For example, if you have the sales numbers per quarter for 2021 and you want to insert the sales numbers per quarter for 2022 to chart the differences.

  1. Start by selecting your first set of data. Click and drag to select all cells included in your first data set. Click Insert and choose a line graph. Your graph will immediately display featuring your selected data.
  2. In order to add your second set of data to the existing graph, click on the Select Data icon which you can find at the top left side of the Chart Design toolbar. In the Legend Entries box, you will see Series 1 displayed. Click the plus icon on the button left of the box.
  3. Series 2 will pop up. In the Y values field to the right, click on the small picture of the graph. You will see Select Date Source at the top of the screen. Simply click and drag to select the Y values for your second set of data. You do not need to select the data headers for each quarter, but rather just the numbers listed alongside or underneath. Then press enter.
  4. Before you press okay to exit the Select Date Source screen, you can rename Series 1 and Series 2 to match your data. Directly above the Y values field, you will see the Name field. Click on Series 1 and then enter the name. Do the same for additional series. In this case, series one would be named 2021 and series two would be named 2022. You can now press okay to exit the screen.
  5. Even though you have customized the names for each plot line in the graph, you may not see them displayed. To do so, select Chart Design from the toolbar. On the far left of the toolbar, click Add Chart Element. Select Legend and choose where in relation to the graph you would like the legend displayed. You will now see a legend displaying the names you have selected for your varying sets of data.

How To Add Labels To An Excel Graph

You may not want to use your axis lines as guides every time you read your graph. Adding data labels to your excel graph allows you to more easily show the value of each point in your graph without having to use your axis lines as constant reference points. To do so, select Chart Design from your Excel worksheet toolbar. Click on the Add Chart Element icon on the left-hand side. Choose Data Labels and decide on your best placement. You will immediately see these labels added to your graph.

How To Change Scale On Excel Graphs

Regardless of the type of Excel graphs you choose to make, you may want to adjust its scale to make your data more clear. To do so, right-click on your axis line and select Format Axis. You can then adjust your bounds and units as needed to make your values easier to read.

All too often, we hear the word “graph” and get a little intimidated by it. Graphs are actually an extremely useful tool that can help to both simplify and visualize data. At, our goal is to make the process an intimidation-free one. Our experts are here to cut through the confusion and provide quick and easy-to-follow instructional guides to help you navigate the world that is Excel.