This article will cover making a basic graph in Excel, Microsoft’s office application for spreadsheets.
If you are in the initial phases of learning MS Excel and want to learn the basics of making graphs, you have come to the right place. In this article, we will guide you so that you can make your first graph in Excel. It will not be particularly complex, but it will be a good starting ground for you. With this tool, you can create charts in Excel to represent various types of data, and then you can use these tables to create a graph or chart from them.
- Create a Graph in Excel
- Updating An Excel Chart Automatically
- Make Graphs with Double Axis
- Format Major Gridlines In Excel
Create a Graph in Excel
- Data Preparation
- Insert the Data
- Select the Graph Type
- Select The Data and Insert Your Desired Graph
- Edit The Legend And Axis Labels Of Your Graph
- Adjust the Layout and Colors of Your Graph
- Chart Filters
Prepare the Data
The first thing is to prepare the data in Excel, from which you will later want to make your graph.
The data preparation steps include –
- Observe your data thoroughly
- Unmerge cells and remove double-row headers
- Bring metrics in the header
- Check if the content of your headers and cells
- Clean your raw data
- Shorten text
- Split variables in separate columns
Once you have the prepared data, click on the Insert option in the toolbar to access the options in which you can choose different elements to insert into your table.
Insert the Data
In the Insert section, you will see a category called Recommended Charts, in which you will find different types of charts that you can add to your table. Therefore, the first step is to think about the kind of chart you are going to want to use.
Select the Chart Type
Once you decide on a type of graph, click on its icon and choose the one that most convinces you from among the various options you will find in each type, be it a bar graph, a pie chart, a line chart or anything else. The type of graph can be changed later on if required.
The chart doesn’t appear on its own, you would need to insert/select the data for the graph to appear.
Select The Data and Insert Your Desired Chart/Graph
You can then select the data set for which you want to create a chart or graph. Hover the cursor to the Recommended Charts section in the ribbon and click on it to view the available options.
You can either pick from the recommended chart options or choose from the All Charts, where you will explore different types of charts. For this dataset, we have chosen Clustered Column from All Charts section.
To insert the graph into your spreadsheet, click OK and the graph will appear.
The Chart Title section is editable.
Edit The Legend And Axis Labels Of Your Graph
To modify the graph that we have created, we can use the three buttons that appear to the right of the graph, allowing us to change the configuration of the graph and its appearance.
For example, if we click on the button with the “+” symbol, a menu will appear with the graphic elements that we can remove or add. In the following image, we see the elements of the graph that are automatically added. The legend of the series or lines of the graph is also editable.
Here you can see that once I hover the cursor on Data Labels, the bars reflect the data as appearing in Cell C2. Similarly, you can choose other Chart Elements to make your table more customized.
Adjust the Layout and Colors of Your Graph
When you close the Select data source box, you return to Excel, in which you already have your table created. When you click on it on the right side, you get other options to edit it, including a brush with which you can change its style and the color of the different lines that appear in it.
We can have a cleaner graph or add more information as needed by selecting or removing the different elements. The graph can be customized from the different options available in the ribbon. I have selected a different design for my graph below.
Using the funnel icon, we can filter or modify the information in our graph. This is particularly useful if we would like to modify the series that we display on our chart or if we want to modify the amount of information shown. When selecting the funnel icon next to our graph, a menu like the following will appear:
Updating An Excel Chart Automatically
We can create an Excel chart that updates automatically, and for this, we will create an Excel table. Every time we update the table, the Excel chart will update automatically.
We have selected a few more cells in the above data set, once we select the cell, the graph got automatically updated.
Make Graphs with Double Axis
To create a double-axis graph we will add a new column D to our existing dataset.
Follow the same process of selecting data and moving to Recommended Charts section to pick the best graph for the dataset. Excel throws below recommendations from which I can pick the one most relevant to my goals.
In this case, Clustered Bar appears to be the most relevant, so I will click OK and the selected graph will appear on the spreadsheet. The graph can then be adjusted by adding chart elements, labels, colors, etc.
Format Major Gridlines In Excel
MS Excel also allows you to format your graph design in terms of the chart area, thickness, width, value axis, angle, distance, etc.
Now you have seen and completed your first basic graph in Excel. The process described is practically the same for the different types of graphs, although it will increase in complexity when you decide to make them based on other more advanced data. We recommend you to play around with graphs to understand how it works.
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