How to create a chart in Excel

How to Create a Chart in Excel

Numerical and text data are often easier to interpret when presented in a visual format, such as in a chart that’s why it’s important to know how to create a chart in Excel.  Entire worksheets can be converted to charts, or a chart can be embedded within a worksheet.  Charts are always linked to the data from which they are created, and they are made up of individual objects, such as title, legend, plot area, axes, and so forth.  Be careful to select only the required data when preparing to create a chart; data usually doesn’t include the Total rows as this may skew the data in your chart.  In this lesson you’ll improve your office skills by learning how to create an embedded Cluster Column Chart.

Types of Charts in Excel

There are many options for types of charts in Excel but some of the most commonly used ones are:

  • Column chart
  • Line chart
  • Pie and doughnut charts
  • Doughnut charts
  • Bar charts
  • Area charts

Other less known types of charts that are only available with Excel 365 are Treemap charts, Sunburst charts, Histogram charts, Box and Whisker charts, Waterfall charts, Funnel charts and Combo charts.  In this lesson though, we’ll be concentrating on some of the most common ones.

Sometimes picking the right chart for use in your project isn’t always easy so Excel has a Recommended Charts command available on the Insert tab.  You can try out some different chart options from this command and choose the one that’s perfect for your data.  Let’s get started.

Create an Embedded Chart in Excel

Requirements – Open up the ex-insert-chart.xls file below to do this Excel tutorial. This tutorial works with Excel 2016 and above versions of Microsoft Office and Microsoft 365.

  1. Click in Cell A2 and select range A2:E10
  2. Click on the Insert tab > Charts Group and click on Recommended Charts.  The Insert Chart dialog box will appear.
  3. Try out a few options then choose the third thumbnail called Clustered Column and then click OK.
Create an embedded chart in Excel

After you insert a chart, it will appear embedded in the worksheet with the default properties for the clustered column chart as shown below.  Notice the Chart Tools contextual tab is displayed and the Design tab is now active.  Click the + sign on the right hand side of the chart to display the Chart Elements.  Every element of the chart has a name and there is a check mark next to the elements that are automatically displayed.

Parts of a chart in Excel

Move, Position and Format the Chart

Recommended text

Charts can be moved, sized and deleted but first they must be selected.  If necessary, click on the chart to select it then do the following:

  1. Place the mouse pointer over a blank area of the chart so that a four-pointed arrow appears. You are positioned properly when you see a screen tip that displays “Chart Area“.  Now drag the chart down and to the left until it is located in row A17.
  2. Point to the lower right corner resizing handles and holding down the shift key on your keyboard, drag to the right to adjust the Chart so that it is centered between rows A through G. Release the mouse button when you are satisfied with the Chart position. Your chart should look like the following:
Resize a chart in Excel 2016

Format the Excel Chart

  1. Select the Chart Title text and type Quarterly Cruise Revenue. Click in any blank cell for the Title Text to be accepted.
    Format a chart in Excel
  2. In the Chart Elements box, check the Axis title to add horizontal and vertical titles to the chart.
  3. Click the horizontal axis title box and type Countries.  Click in any blank cell for the Title Text to be accepted.
  4. Click the vertical axis title box and type Revenue.  Click in any blank cell for the Title Text to be accepted.
Format a chart in Excel
 

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