Excel is a powerful tool that you can use to create charts and graphs for small or large amounts of data. In this Excel tutorial, I’ll show you how to grab a small data set and create a simple bar chart, along with the options you have for customizing the chart. When you have the basics low, you can use these same techniques on larger datasets.
- First, I created a set of student test data for our example. There are eight students with the test results in four exams. To turn it into a graph, you first want to select the entire data range, including titles (test 1, etc.).
- Now that your data is selected as shown above, go ahead and click Insert at the tape interface. A little to the right, you will see the Graphics section as shown below.
- By default, it tries to list the most common types of graphics, such as Column, Line, Cake, Bar, Area, and Scatter. If you want a different chart type, click Other Charts. For our example, we will try to use a graph of columns to visualize the data. Click on Column and select the type of chart you want. There are so many options! Also, don’t worry, because if you choose a chart you don’t like, you can easily switch to another chart type with just a click of the mouse.
- So now Excel will create the data-based chart and leave it somewhere on the sheet. This is! You have created your first chart / chart in Excel and it only takes a few minutes. Creating a chart is easy, but what you can do with your chart after creating it is what makes Excel such a great tool.
In the example above, I see each person along the X axis and the test scores on the Y axis. Each student has four bars to get the respective test results. It’s fine, though, what if I wanted to visualize the data differently? Well, by default, once you add the graphic, you’ll see a new section at the top of the ribbon Graphics tools with three tabs: Design, Design i Format. Here you can change everything under the sun as far as your new chart is concerned.
One thing you can do is click on it Change row / column under Data and the graph will change instantly with the changed data. Now it looks like the graph with the same data, but with X and Y changed.
This graph is also useful because I can now see the scores of all students per exam. It is very easy to choose who did the best and who did the worst in each test when the data is displayed like this. Now let’s make our graphic a little nicer by adding some titles and so on. An easy way to do this is to click the down arrow with a line up and down Graphic designs. Here you will see a lot of different ways to change the design.
- If you choose the one shown above, the chart with the added additional axis titles will now be displayed. Feel free to choose other designs just to see how the graphic changes. You can always change the layout and it will not clutter the chart in any way.
- Now just double-click on the text boxes and you can title the X and Y axes, as well as title the graphic. Then we move on to Design on the Graphics Tools tab. This is a very important tab because you can modify almost every detail of your chart here. The best part I like is on the left side of the so-called tape Current selection.
There is a drop-down box that allows you to choose any specific part of the chart, and then you can click Selection of formats to change the settings of only that part. Here you can see all the sections you can select:
Suppose I click on Horizontal axis (category) and then click Format Selection. I will receive a dialog box that will allow me to adjust all the properties of this object. In this case, I can add shadows, rotate text, add a background color, and so on.
If you move along the tape below Design, you’ll see a lot of other options in the file Tags, Axes, i Background sections. Go ahead and click on these and test them to see what kind of effect they have on the chart. You can really customize the chart with these options. Most of the options here basically allow you to move things to different locations on the chart.
Finally, the file Format the Graphics Tools tab lets you adjust the format for each part of the graph. Again, you can use the Current Selection tool on the left, and then change the border styles, font styles, object layout, and more.
For fun, I added a reflection effect to the entire text of the graphic and gave the entire graphic a 3D effect that comes from the back to the front instead of just flat.
In Excel, you can create much more complicated graphs than the one I showed here, but this tutorial was just to get your feet wet and understand the basics for creating a graph. If you have any questions about the tutorial or about your own graphic, leave a comment. Enjoy it!