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How to Make a Combo Chart in Excel

A combo chart in Excel is a chart that displays multiple sets of data in different ways on the same chart. Many kinds of data can be combined into one chart. You could even represent the same data in various ways on a single chart.

For example, you may want to combine a bar graph with a line graph in the same chart.

yearly_salary_and_debt combo chart

A combination chart displaying annual salary and annual total debt.

For a refresher on making standard graphs and charts in Excel, check out this helpful article: How to Create Graphs in Excel

Making a Combo Chart

It’s easy to make a combination (combo) chart!

  1. Begin by selecting a range of data in your spreadsheet. Select multiple columns of data (or series) to build a combo chart.
  2. For example, to create the chart shown above, you would first select the rightmost two columns of data, entitled “Salary (in $)” and “Total Debt.”

    If you select all three columns, then the chart function will assume that you want to graph the years, 2000, 2001, …, 2018, as values in the chart. (Keep in mind, you can always go back and edit the chart so that it uses “Years” as horizontal axis labels.)

    chart data

  3. Go to the instert tab and click Combo Chart from the Charts group.
  4. combo chart button

  5. Now you may select one of three common formats, or choose to “Create Custom Combo Chart.” Try out a few designs until you find one that you like.

Combo Charts With Three Series

Now let’s go back to our salary and debt chart and add another series of data. Suppose you want to track your savings as well.

First, create a new column for Savings.

salary_debt_savings_data

Then, select the rightmost three columns (Salary, Total Debt, and Savings).

This time, let’s create a custom combo chart. Now you will see a dialog box with a number of different options.

salary_debt_savings example, create custom chart

Because the savings amounts are so much smaller than either salary or debt, I’ve decided to lump salary and debt together on the primary axis (left), and to put savings on the secondary axis (right). The checkboxes under Secondary Axis allow me to move the data to primary or secondary axis.

I’ve also selected “Line with Markers” for both Total Debt and Savings. Experiment with different formats for different kinds of data. The sky’s the limit!

Finally, after choosing the desired options, then you can create the chart. As before, you might change the horizontal axis labels to show the years. Try out a few different designs for best effect — here is a snazzy dark background and shadowed effects on the lines.

snazzy_combo_chart

Summary

As you can see, it’s not difficult to make combo charts. Remember that you will need at least two columns (series) of data. Don’t forget to try out the various options and designs to really spice up your documents!

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