Creating Graphs in Excel


Understanding Data With Graphs

Excel can display several types of graphs to visualize data. There are at least 26 different graph types in Excel. The following table shows the common graph types.

GraphDescription
Areatrends over time or by category
Bubblethree values, the third value graphed as the size of a bubble
Columnvertical display
Barhorizontal display
Combocombines two or more chart types
Linetrends over time or by category
Piecomponents of a total amount
Stockstock prices and and volume trends over time
X Y (Scatter)compares pairs of numeric values on the x and y axes

Note: Avoid 3-D graphs and unusual text and color combinations.

Bar Chart

A bar chart shows categorical data in horizontal bars. The first bar chart shows the data alphabetized by product name.

Bar Graph Sorted by Product Name

The second bar chart shows the data sorted descending by product revenue.

Bar Graph Sorted by Revenue

Column Chart

A column charts puts categorical data into vertical columns. The first column chart is sorted by name. 

Column Graph Sorted by Product Name

The second column chart is sorted by revenue from the largest to the smallest.

Column Graph Sorted by Revenue

Stacked Column Chart

A stacked column chart shows data series stacked in vertical columns. The first stacked column chart is sorted by name.

Stacked Column Chart Sorted by Product Name


The second stacked column is sorted by revenue for 2021.

Stacked Column Chart Sorted by 2021 Revenue

Clustered Column Chart

A clustered column chart groups data series clustered in vertical columns. For each product, the graph shows all three years of revenue. The first graph sorts by product name.

Clustered Column Chart Sorted by Product Name


The second clustered column chart sorts the groups by 2021 revenue.

Clustered Column Graph Sorted by 2021 Revenue

100% Stacked Column Chart

An 100% stacked column chart shows all the stacks the same size. The stacks show relative data in stacked columns equal to 100%. So, a column that totals 5,000 is the same size as a column totaling 10,000. It shows the relative size of the column components.

A 100% stacked column chart could be used in place of a pie chart. The first 100% stacked column graph is sorted by product name.

100% Stacked Column Graph Sorted by Product Name
100% Stacked Column Graph Sorted by 2021 Revenue

100% Stacked Bar Chart

A 100% stacked bar chart shows all the bars the same size. The bars show relative data in rows equal to 100%. So, a bar that totals 12,000 is the same size as a bar totaling 20,000. It shows the relative size of the bar components.

A 100% stacked bar chart could be used in place of a pie chart. The first 100% stacked bar graph is sorted by product name.

100% Stacked Bar Graph Sorted by Product Name
100% Stacked Bar Graph Sorted by 2021 Revenue

Stacked Bar Chart

A stacked bar chart shows several data series on the same bar. The stacked bar shows the relative size of the data. It is the horizontal equivalent of a stacked column chart. A bar of 30,000 would be twice the size of a bar of 15,000.

Stacked Bar Graph Sorted by Product Name
Stacked Bar Graph Sorted by 2021 Revenue

Clustered Bar Chart

A clustered bar chart has data series clustered in horizontal bars.

Clustered Bar Chart Sorted by Product Name
Clustered Bar Chart Sorted by 2021 Revenue

Pie Chart

Pie charts express a component/total relationship, where all pieces together represent 100%

Pie Chart With Dollars
Pie Chart With Percents

Line Chart

A line chart shows several data series plotted as separate lines. This displays trends over time.

Line Chart by Annual Revenue

Area Chart

An area chart shows one data series plotted as a line filled in below. It is similar to a single line chart and shows trends over time.

Area Chart Annual Revenue

Stacked Area Chart

A stacked area chart shows data series plotted with filled areas stacked, one on top of the other.

Stacked Area Chart

100% Stacked Area Chart

The 100% stacked area chart shows data plotted as areas and stacked so that the cumulative area always represents 100%. It shows composition and progression of data series.

100% Stacked Area Chart

XY Scatter Plot

XY chart that shows the relationship between two variables, x (independent variable) on the horizontal axis and y (dependent variable) on the vertical axis.

XY Scatter Plot

Doughnut Chart

A doughnut chart is a modified pie chart that express a component/total relationship. All pieces together represent 100%.

Doughnut Chart in Dollars
Doughnut Chart in Percents

Radar Chart

Radar chart sometimes called a spider chart, has one axis per category which all use the same scale. The axes of a radar chart radiate out from the center of the chart and data points are plotted on each axis using a common scale.

Radar Chart

Bubble Chart

Bubble charts are a special kind of XY chart that can display another data series which is used to scale the bubble plotted at X and Y values. You can think of a bubble chart as “X versus Y, scaled by Z”.

Bubble Chart

Pareto Chart

A Pareto char is a combo chart using a histogram in descending order and a line chart showing contribution to 100%; follows the idea of 80/20 analyst where 20% of the categories account for 80% of the data measured.

Pareto Chart

Candlestick Chart

A candlestick chart is used to show stock price activity. It plots Open-High-Low-Close (OHLC) stock prices.

Open High Low Close Chart

Waterfall Chart

A waterfall chart is used to plot the cumulative result of values as a visual running total. Positive values extend upward and negative values extend downward. It shows how an initial value is affected by subsequent positive and negative changes.

Waterfall Chart

Combo Chart

A combo chart is a hybrid of two more chart types, for example, a column chart plus a line chart.

Combo Chart

Exercise 4: Infographics in Excel


Exercise 5: Creating Graphs in Excel


Jeff Mankin

Jeff Mankin teaches financial literacy. His website is FinallyLearn.com.

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