A Basic Guide To Charts And Graphs In Excel

9 min read|Last Updated: February 13th, 2024|Categories: excel|

When you have an Excel worksheet full of data and numbers, sometimes it’s hard to understand the meaning behind them. An Excel graph or chart is a helpful tool to visually represent the data on a worksheet. It can graphically show what’s happening in the report you’re presenting so they can easily make comparisons and conclusions. Here is the complete guide to using an Excel chart.


How to create Excel graphs 

Creating an Excel graph is straightforward and simple. First of all, you need to select the cells that contain the data you would like to use. Make sure to include the names of columns or rows so the graph will be more practical and informative. 

Then go to the Insert menu and choose from the Charts section. 


Excel Chart Types

There is a range of charts you can choose from. You can pick different types of graphs and charts and show the same result using a different graphic. Each chart is explained as follows: 

Pie Charts and Graphs in Excel 

A Pie Chart in excel is a circular chart that is divided into portions to show different numbers. The higher the number, the bigger the slice. That’s how this type of graph helps you understand the statistics in a graphical type.

Pie Charts have different graphics that makes it possible for the user to choose the preferred type from 2-D Chart, 3-D Chart, and Doughnut Chart, which are the most common types of Pie Chart.

2d Pie Chart in an Excel spreadsheet
Figure 1- 2d Pie Chart.

3d Pie Chart in an Excel spreadsheet
Figure 2- 3d Pie Chart.

a doughnut chart in Excel spreadsheet
Figure 3- Doughnut Chart.

Please note that Pie Charts are useful when you have only one set of data. Otherwise, it is not possible to do a comparison using this graph. Moreover, it works better with a small number of data points. It won’t be so helpful if a large number of data is used. Generally, it’s not recommended to use this type of Excel graph for more than 5 slices. The result might not be clear enough for the audience. So as a rule of thumb remember to keep it for representing up to 5 data.


Bar Graph In Excel 

Bar graphs and column graphs are fairly similar to each other. They both represent the values by the height of the rectangular. The more the value is, the higher or longer the bar will be. Their main difference is that a bar chart is horizontal, and a column chart is vertical. Both can be used to show comparisons between two or more data over a period of time.

For example, if you want to compare the sales of January with the sales of the same month last year, a bar graph can easily show you which time you had more sales. In other words, even if you miss the numbers and statistics, you can visually see the difference.

However, you should also know that it’s still not recommended to use this chart to show a large amount of data. The best result is for a maximum of 12 data sets.  

Like the pie chart, bar charts also have different graphics including 2-D and 3-D. They all give you the same result but they are just visually different.