Excel Tutorial: How Do I Make A Graph From An Excel Spreadsheet


Visualizing data with graphs is an essential part of data analysis, as it allows us to easily identify trends, patterns, and outliers. In this Excel tutorial, we will walk you through the steps involved in creating a graph from an Excel spreadsheet. Whether you're a student, a professional, or anyone who works with data, knowing how to create a graph in Excel is a valuable skill that can help you present and understand your data more effectively.

Key Takeaways

  • Visualizing data with graphs is crucial for identifying trends, patterns, and outliers.
  • Creating a graph in Excel is a valuable skill for students, professionals, and anyone working with data.
  • Understanding your data and selecting the right type of graph is essential for effective data presentation.
  • Inputting and customizing data in the graph, as well as adding finishing touches, enhances the overall visual appeal and clarity of the graph.
  • Practicing creating graphs in Excel can significantly improve data presentation skills.

Understanding your data

Before creating a graph from an Excel spreadsheet, it's important to understand the data you are working with.

A. Reviewing the data in your Excel spreadsheet

Take the time to thoroughly review the data in your Excel spreadsheet. Look for any inconsistencies, missing values, or outliers that may impact the accuracy of your graph.

B. Identifying the variables you want to compare on the graph

Identify the specific variables or data points that you want to compare on the graph. This will help you determine the type of graph that will best represent your data.

  • Bar Graph: Use when comparing categories of data.
  • Line Graph: Use when showing trends over time.
  • Pie Chart: Use when representing parts of a whole.
  • Scatter Plot: Use when identifying relationships between two variables.

Selecting the right type of graph

When creating a graph from an Excel spreadsheet, it's important to choose the right type of graph to effectively represent your data. Here are the steps to consider:

A. Understanding the different types of graphs available in Excel

Excel offers a variety of graph types, including bar graphs, line graphs, pie charts, scatter plots, and more. Each type of graph has its own strengths and weaknesses in terms of visualizing different types of data. It's important to understand the characteristics of each graph type to choose the most effective one for your data.

B. Choosing the most appropriate graph for your data

Once you understand the different types of graphs available in Excel, the next step is to select the most appropriate graph for your specific data. Consider the following factors:

  • Data type: Depending on the nature of your data—such as categorical, numerical, or time-based—certain types of graphs may be more suitable than others.
  • Relationship between variables: If you want to show the relationship between two or more variables, a scatter plot or a line graph may be more appropriate than a bar graph or a pie chart.
  • Comparison: If you need to compare different categories or groups within your data, a bar graph or a stacked bar graph can be effective for visualizing these comparisons.
  • Trend analysis: For visualizing trends over time or across different categories, a line graph or a combination chart (which combines different types of graphs) may be the best choice.

By carefully considering these factors, you can choose the most suitable type of graph to create from your Excel spreadsheet, ensuring that your data is effectively communicated to your audience.

Inputting data into the graph

Creating a graph in Excel is a simple process that starts with selecting the data range for the graph and adding labels and titles to the graph.

A. Selecting the data range for the graph
  • To begin, open the Excel spreadsheet containing the data you want to visualize in a graph.
  • Click and drag to select the range of cells that you want to include in the graph. This should include both the data points for the x-axis and the corresponding data points for the y-axis.
  • For example, if you want to create a graph showing sales data over time, you would select the cells containing the dates for the x-axis and the cells containing the sales figures for the y-axis.

B. Adding labels and titles to the graph
  • After selecting the data range, click on the "Insert" tab at the top of the Excel window.
  • In the Charts group, click on the type of graph you want to create, such as bar graph, line graph, or pie chart. A preview of the graph will appear in your spreadsheet.
  • To add labels and titles to the graph, click on the "Chart Elements" button that appears next to the graph. From here, you can select options such as "Axis Titles" to add labels to the x-axis and y-axis, as well as "Chart Title" to add a title to the graph.

By following these simple steps, you can easily input your data into a graph in Excel and customize it with labels and titles.

Customizing the appearance of the graph

Once you have created a graph from your Excel spreadsheet, you may want to customize its appearance to better communicate your data. Here are some tips for customizing the appearance of your graph:

A. Changing the colors and styles of the graph elements
  • Modify colors:

    To change the color of a specific data series or element in your graph, simply click on the element and navigate to the formatting options. From there, you can choose a new color that better suits your presentation.
  • Adjust line styles:

    You can also customize the appearance of lines in your graph (such as gridlines or data series lines) by adjusting their styles. Experiment with different line thickness and styles to find the best fit for your data visualization.
  • Utilize themes:

    Excel offers pre-designed themes that allow you to quickly apply a cohesive color scheme and style to your entire graph. Simply navigate to the "Chart Styles" options and choose a theme that aligns with your presentation needs.

B. Adjusting the axis and scale of the graph
  • Modify axis labels:

    You can customize the appearance of your graph's axes by changing the font, size, and orientation of the axis labels. This can help improve the readability and visual appeal of the graph.
  • Adjust scale:

    If your graph's default scale does not effectively showcase your data, you can manually adjust the axis scale to better highlight important trends or patterns.
  • Format data labels:

    Excel allows you to add data labels to your graph to provide more context to your data points. You can customize the appearance of these labels by changing their font, size, color, and position.

By utilizing these customization options, you can create a graph that not only effectively communicates your data but also enhances the overall visual impact of your presentation.

Adding finishing touches

Once you have created the basic graph from your Excel spreadsheet, you may want to add some finishing touches to make it more visually appealing and easier to understand.

A. Adding data labels or annotations to the graph

If you want to provide specific information about the data points on your graph, you can add data labels or annotations. To do this, click on the graph to select it, then right-click and choose "Add Data Labels" or "Add Annotation" from the menu. You can then choose which data points you want to label, and customize the format and position of the labels.

B. Including a legend or key, if applicable

If your graph includes multiple sets of data, it is important to include a legend or key to help viewers understand which data series corresponds to which color or symbol on the graph. To add a legend, click on the graph to select it, then go to the "Chart Tools" tab and click on "Add Chart Element." Choose "Legend" from the drop-down menu, and the legend will automatically appear on the graph. You can then click on the legend to customize its appearance and position.


As we've seen, visualizing data with graphs is an essential skill for any professional or student working with data. Whether it's for business reports, academic research, or personal projects, graphs provide a clear and concise way to present information. I encourage you to practice creating graphs in Excel to improve your data presentation skills. The more you familiarize yourself with Excel's graphing tools, the better equipped you'll be to effectively communicate your data to others.

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