Depending on the type of data you’re showcasing, you’ll want to design a chart or graph that best represents it. For example, numerical data is best shown with bar graphs.

But even once you’ve decided on the ideal graph to display your data, you’ll still need to determine how you’ll create the graph. That’s where Excel comes in. Although complex at a glance, once you learn how to make a graph in Excel, showing data will be a breeze.

Let’s break down the steps and uses of graphs in Excel.

Learning How to Make a Graph in Excel: The Basics

To begin creating a graph in Excel, you need to know your options. Your graph options within Excel include:

  • Bar graphs
  • Line graphs
  • Pie graphs
  • Column graphs

Assess your data before you start creating your graph in Excel. This will help you to pick the best way to visualize your data in a transparent and comprehensive style. 

Correctly visualizing your data will allow a reader to easily digest and comprehend the information being presented. Selecting the right graph will also prevent the data from being displayed in a misguiding manor. 

The First Steps to Inserting a Graph in Excel

Begin by inserting all the data you’d like to be included in your graph into the Excel spreadsheet. This is where Excel will pull data to display in the graph of your choice. 

Once you’ve set up the data, follow these steps:

  1. Highlight the data to be included in the graph
  2. Select the ‘Insert’ tab at the top of your screen
  3. Pick a graph type from the options on the far right

Once you’ve selected the graph type, it will populate on your page using the highlighted data. At this point, you have a basic graph which can then be customized to your needs.

Change Design and Colors of Your Graph

Once you’ve moved all data into the spreadsheet and set up the basic structure of the graph, it’s time for the fun part. Designing the style will help to highlight focal points on your graph. It can also be used to color coordinate with the presentation or report where the graph will be used. 

Clicking the ‘Chart Design’ tab at the top of the screen will allow you to select various layout and color schemes. Try out a couple to decide which one you prefer. From there you can dive into the ‘Format Legend’ to make more precise adjustments to the color palette of your graph.

After narrowing down your design options, it’s time to title your graph. A generic title will prepopulate in your graph. Simply click on it to reveal a blinking cursor and plug in the title you’d like to be included. 

Charts Versus Graphs in Excel

Charts and graphs are different in the technical sense. However, in day-to-day conversation, the terms are used interchangeably. For example, you may hear someone refer to a pie graph as a pie chart, and vice versa. 

As you work within Excel on your graph you’ll notice the terms are used interchangeably within the platform as well.

No matter how you refer to them, as you create and download your charts, you can use Excel as a go-to for visualizing your data.

Using Graphs in Excel to Show Data

Now that you’ve mastered how to make a graph in Excel, you’ll be able to easily create new graphs for any presentation or report. With Excel, you’ll be able to quickly create an unlimited number of graphs at only the cost of the software. Excel makes creating and displaying data simple without downgrading the quality of your display.

Check out our other articles for more information on using Excel.


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