Excel Tutorial: How To Make Excel Bar Chart


Bar charts are an essential tool for visualizing and analyzing data in Excel. They provide a clear and easy-to-understand way to compare different categories or groups. In this tutorial, we will cover the step-by-step process of creating a bar chart in Excel, including selecting the data, choosing the chart type, and customizing the appearance to best represent your data.

Key Takeaways

  • Bar charts are essential for visualizing and analyzing data in Excel
  • Organizing and formatting data correctly is crucial for creating an effective bar chart
  • Customizing the appearance of the chart, including colors, labels, and axis, is important for representing data accurately
  • Adding data labels and gridlines can improve the visualization of the bar chart
  • Reviewing, adjusting, and saving the final chart is necessary for use in reports or presentations

Setting up your data

Before you can create a bar chart in Excel, you need to ensure that your data is properly organized and formatted.

A. Organizing your data in Excel
  • Open a new Excel worksheet and enter your data into the cells. The first column should contain the categories or labels for the data, while the second column should contain the corresponding values.
  • Make sure that there are no empty rows or columns within the data set, as this can cause issues when creating the bar chart.

B. Making sure your data is formatted correctly for a bar chart
  • Ensure that your data is in a tabular format, with each row representing a distinct data point and each column representing a different variable.
  • Check that the numerical values are properly formatted as numbers and not as text, as Excel will not be able to create a bar chart if the data is not recognized as numeric.
  • Verify that the categories or labels are clearly defined and do not contain any special characters or formatting that could interfere with the chart creation process.

Creating the bar chart

When working with Excel, creating a bar chart is a great way to visually represent your data. Here's a structured approach to creating a bar chart in Excel:

A. Selecting the data to be included in the chart
  • The first step in creating a bar chart is to select the data that you want to include in the chart. This data can be in any format, such as a table or a range of cells.

  • Ensure that the data you select accurately represents the information you want to convey through the bar chart, as this will form the basis of your visual representation.

B. Inserting a bar chart into your Excel worksheet
  • After selecting the data, navigate to the "Insert" tab in the Excel ribbon.

  • Click on the "Bar Chart" option, which will provide you with a dropdown menu of different types of bar charts to choose from.

  • Select the specific bar chart type that best suits your data and click on it to insert the chart into your worksheet.

C. Choosing the right type of bar chart for your data
  • Excel offers various types of bar charts, such as clustered bar charts, stacked bar charts, and 100% stacked bar charts.

  • Consider the nature of your data and the story you want to tell when choosing the right type of bar chart. For example, if you want to compare the values of different categories across the same data series, a clustered bar chart may be the best option.

  • Experiment with different types of bar charts to see which one effectively communicates your data and insights.

Customizing the chart

Once you have created your bar chart in Excel, you may want to customize it to fit your specific needs and preferences. Here are a few ways to do that:

A. Changing the colors of the bars

  • Bold and vibrant colors can make your chart stand out and be more visually appealing. To change the color of the bars, click on any of the bars in the chart to select them all. Then, right-click and choose "Format Data Series." Under the "Fill" tab, you can choose a new color for the bars.

B. Adding a title and labels to the chart

  • Adding a title to your chart can help provide context and make it easier to understand at a glance. To add a title, click on the chart and then click on "Chart Elements" (the + sign) on the right-hand side. Check the box next to "Chart Title" and type in your desired title.
  • Labels for the x and y-axis can also be added using the same "Chart Elements" menu, and they can be customized for font, size, and position by right-clicking on the labels and selecting "Format Axis."

C. Adjusting the axis labels and scale

  • If the default axis labels and scale are not suitable for your data, you can easily adjust them. Right-click on the axis you want to modify and select "Format Axis." From there, you can change the minimum and maximum values, as well as the format and appearance of the labels.

Adding data labels and gridlines

When creating a bar chart in Excel, it's important to include data labels and gridlines in order to enhance the visualization of your data. Here's how you can easily add these elements to your chart:

Including data labels on the bars

Data labels provide valuable information by displaying the exact values of the bars directly on the chart. To add data labels to your bar chart in Excel, follow these simple steps:

  • Select the data series: Click on the bars to select the data series that you want to add data labels to.
  • Access the "Chart Elements" button: Click on the plus sign icon that appears next to the chart when it is selected. This will open a drop-down menu of chart elements.
  • Select "Data Labels": In the chart elements menu, hover over the "Data Labels" option and choose the placement of the labels (e.g., "Center" or "Outside End"). The data labels will then appear on the bars of your chart.

Turning on gridlines for better visualization

Gridlines help to visually organize and compare the data in your chart. To turn on gridlines for your bar chart in Excel, follow these steps:

  • Select the chart: Click on the bar chart to select it.
  • Access the "Chart Elements" button: Click on the plus sign icon that appears next to the chart when it is selected.
  • Turn on gridlines: In the chart elements menu, check the box next to "Gridlines" to display the gridlines on your chart.

By following these steps, you can easily include data labels and gridlines to your Excel bar chart, making it more informative and visually appealing.

Finalizing and saving your chart

After creating your bar chart in Excel, it's important to review and adjust the final appearance before saving it for use in reports or presentations.

A. Reviewing and adjusting the final appearance of the chart

Once you have created your bar chart, take the time to review and adjust its appearance to ensure it effectively communicates your data.

  • 1. Formatting the chart: You can change the colors, fonts, and other visual elements of the chart to make it more visually appealing and easy to understand.
  • 2. Adding or removing elements: Consider adding a title, axis labels, or a legend to provide additional context for the chart. You can also remove any unnecessary elements that may clutter the chart.
  • 3. Adjusting the chart layout: You can resize the chart or reposition its elements to make it fit better with the overall design of your report or presentation.

B. Saving the chart for use in reports or presentations

Once you are satisfied with the final appearance of the chart, it's time to save it for use in your reports or presentations.

  • 1. Saving the Excel file: Make sure to save the Excel file containing the chart so that you can easily access and edit it in the future if needed.
  • 2. Exporting the chart: You can also export the chart as an image or PDF file to easily insert it into your reports or presentations.
  • 3. Embedding the chart: If you are using the chart in a digital format, consider embedding it directly into your document or presentation to ensure it retains its formatting.


Creating an Excel bar chart is a simple and effective way to visualize your data. Remember the key steps: selecting your data, navigating to the 'Insert' tab, and choosing the 'Bar Chart' option. Once you've created your chart, don't be afraid to experiment with different chart styles, colors, and labels to customize it to your preferences. The best way to learn is by doing, so practice and explore the various customization options to take your bar chart to the next level.

Excel Dashboard

ONLY $99

    Immediate Download

    MAC & PC Compatible

    Free Email Support

Related aticles