One of Excel’s strengths is making it easy to create visual depictions of otherwise boring data. Excel allows you to create several different types of visual charts including column charts, bar charts, line charts, pie charts and more. In this brief tutorial, we are going to learn how to make a column chart in Excel.
Start with properly formatted data
The first step to creating a visually appealing column chart in Excel is to make sure you have properly formatted data. If you do this step right, creating a chart is as simple as a click of the mouse. Without properly formatted data, however, Excel will not be able to make sense of your data and thus will likely not create the chart you desire.
Here’s an example of an Excel spreadsheet with properly formatted data for a column chart. The data represents the sales for a company’s four regions from 2014 to 2018.
Insert column chart
To create a column chart in Excel with this data, you start by selecting (or highlighting) the data with your mouse. Click and drag with your mouse to select the data (from cell A1 to cell E6). With the data selected, click on the Insert tab.
If you want Excel to recommend a chart type for you, based on your data, you could click the Recommended Charts button. In our case, however, we already know we want a column chart. Look for the column chart icon just to the right of Recommended Charts.
When you click the column chart button, Excel will display different variations of 2-D and 3-D column and bar charts. As you float your mouse over each type, Excel will display a live preview of what that chart would look like with the data you selected.
Click on the column chart type you like to add the column chart to your spreadsheet.
Check out our Excel Lesson Videos to learn more about the column chart and other chart types in Excel.
Formatting your column chart
Once the column chart is in your spreadsheet, you can use your mouse to drag it to wherever you want in your spreadsheet. You can also click on individual parts of the chart to edit them. For example, clicking on the chart title allows you to edit the title associated with your column chart.
Clicking on the column chart will also reveal three buttons near the top right of the chart (numbered 1, 2 and 3 in the image below).
The first button allows you to change the Chart Elements. For example, you could choose to add or remove gridlines from your chart by checking or unchecking the gridlines box.
The second button allows you to change the style or colors of your chart. Again, Excel offers live previews of your column chart as you hover your mouse over each available style.
The third button allows you to filter the data in your column chart. For example, you could uncheck the box for Region 3 if you wanted to see a view of your column chart that only contains regions 1, 2 and 4.
If you want to remove the column chart from your spreadsheet, simply click on the column chart and press the Delete key on your keyboard.