Excel Tutorial: How To Plot 3 Data Sets In Excel


Plotting data in Excel is an essential skill for anyone working with numbers and statistics. It allows you to visualize and analyze complex data sets, making it easier to identify trends and patterns. In this tutorial, we will walk through the process of plotting three data sets in Excel, demonstrating how to create clear and informative visual representations of your data.

Before we begin, let's take a quick look at the three data sets that we will be working with:

  • Data Set 1: Monthly Sales Figures
  • Data Set 2: Quarterly Expenses
  • Data Set 3: Yearly Revenue Growth

Key Takeaways

  • Plotting data in Excel is essential for visualizing and analyzing complex data sets.
  • Organize data in separate columns/rows and ensure accurate labeling to avoid errors.
  • Choose the most appropriate chart type and customize it to best represent the data.
  • Input and adjust data for each data set, making necessary adjustments for clarity and accuracy.
  • Practice and explore different chart options in Excel to effectively plot multiple data sets.

Setting up the Data

Before you can plot 3 data sets in Excel, it's important to organize your data in a clear and structured manner.

A. Organizing the data in separate columns or rows

Begin by entering your data into separate columns or rows, depending on which format makes the most sense for your specific data sets. This will make it easier to manipulate and plot the data later on.

B. Ensuring that the data is labeled accurately

Each data set should be clearly labeled to avoid confusion later on. Make sure that each column or row header accurately describes the data it contains.

C. Checking for any errors or inconsistencies in the data

Before proceeding with plotting the data, take a moment to review each data set for any errors or inconsistencies. This could include missing values, incorrect entries, or any other issues that could impact the accuracy of your plot.

Selecting the Correct Chart Type

When it comes to plotting 3 data sets in Excel, selecting the correct chart type is crucial for effectively conveying the information. Here are some key steps to consider:

A. Exploring the different chart options available in Excel
  • Excel offers a wide range of chart options, including bar charts, line charts, scatter plots, and more. It's important to explore these options to understand the different ways in which data can be visualized.

B. Choosing the most appropriate chart type for the specific data sets
  • Consider the nature of the data sets - are they continuous or discrete? Are there any trends or patterns that need to be highlighted? Based on these considerations, choose the chart type that best suits the data.

  • For example, if you have three data sets that show the relationship between three variables, a 3D scatter plot or a bubble chart may be more suitable than a traditional line or bar chart.

C. Customizing the chart to best represent the data
  • Once the appropriate chart type is selected, it's important to customize the chart to best represent the data. This may involve adjusting the axis scales, adding labels and titles, changing the color scheme, and other formatting options.

  • Customizing the chart can help to make the data more visually appealing and easier to interpret for the intended audience.

Plotting the First Data Set

When working with multiple data sets in Excel, it’s important to plot each set accurately to effectively visualize the data. Here’s how to plot the first data set:

A. Selecting the first data set to be plotted
  • Open the Excel workbook containing the data sets.
  • Navigate to the worksheet or data table where the first data set is located.
  • Highlight the cells containing the data for the first set by clicking and dragging over the range of cells.

B. Inputting the data into the chart
  • Click on the “Insert” tab in the Excel ribbon at the top of the window.
  • Select the type of chart you want to create (e.g., line chart, bar chart, etc.) from the Chart group.
  • Click and drag your mouse over the chart area to create a placeholder for the chart.
  • With the chart selected, go to the “Chart Tools” tab and click on “Select Data” in the Data group.
  • In the “Select Data Source” dialog box, click on “Add” to input the range of cells for the first data set.
  • Click and drag over the cells containing the data for the first set, then click “OK” to input the data into the chart.

C. Adjusting the chart to accurately display the data
  • After inputting the data into the chart, you may need to make adjustments to ensure the data is accurately displayed.
  • Change the chart title, axis labels, and legend as needed to reflect the data set being plotted.
  • Format the chart to make it visually appealing and easy to understand.
  • Double-check that the data is plotted accurately and that the chart effectively communicates the insights you want to convey.

Plotting the Second Data Set

After successfully plotting the first data set in Excel, you may now proceed to plot the second data set to provide a comprehensive overview of the information.

A. Selecting the second data set to be plotted
  • 1. Navigate to the data tab

    Click on the data tab on the ribbon at the top of the Excel window. This will allow you to access the data sets that you have entered into the spreadsheet.

  • 2. Highlight the second data set

    Identify the second data set that you want to plot and highlight the corresponding cells. Ensure that you select the correct range of data to accurately represent the information.

B. Adding the data to the existing chart
  • 1. Click on the chart

    Locate the existing chart where you plotted the first data set. Click on the chart to activate it and prepare for adding the second data set.

  • 2. Edit the data series

    Right-click on the chart and select "Select Data" from the context menu. This will open a dialog box where you can manage the data series that are plotted on the chart.

  • 3. Add the second data set

    Within the "Select Data Source" dialog box, click on the "Add" button to include the second data set. Enter the range of cells that contain the data for the second set and provide a clear label for the series.

C. Making any necessary adjustments to ensure clarity and accuracy
  • 1. Adjust the axis labels

    If the second data set has different units or scales compared to the first set, you may need to adjust the axis labels to ensure that the chart accurately represents the information.

  • 2. Format the data series

    You can modify the appearance of the second data set on the chart by changing the color, style, or markers associated with the series. This can help differentiate between the different sets of data.

  • 3. Include a legend

    Ensure that the chart includes a legend to clearly identify which data set corresponds to each series on the chart. This will help viewers understand the information presented.

Plotting the Third Data Set

After successfully plotting the first two data sets in your Excel chart, it is time to incorporate the third data set to create a comprehensive visualization.

A. Selecting the third data set to be plotted
  • Identify the column or row containing the third set of data that you want to plot.
  • Select the data by clicking and dragging your cursor over the specific cells.

B. Incorporating the data into the existing chart
  • Click on the chart to select it.
  • Go to the "Design" tab on the Excel ribbon and click on "Select Data".
  • Click "Add" to insert a new series to the chart.
  • Select the range of cells containing the third data set and click "OK".

C. Fine-tuning the chart to clearly showcase all three data sets
  • Adjust the formatting of the new data series to ensure it stands out in the chart.
  • Consider using different colors, line styles, or markers to differentiate the third data set from the existing ones.
  • Check the axis labels and titles to ensure they accurately represent all three data sets.
  • Use the "Chart Elements" button to add a legend if necessary, providing clarity on which data set is which.


Accurately plotting data in Excel is crucial for visualizing and analyzing multiple data sets. It allows for better understanding and interpretation of data, leading to informed decision-making. I encourage you to practice and explore different chart options in Excel to enhance your data presentation skills.

  • Remember to select the appropriate chart type for your data sets
  • Ensure clear labeling and formatting for better readability
  • Utilize Excel's features for customization and data analysis

By following these key takeaways, you can successfully plot multiple data sets in Excel and effectively communicate your findings to others.

Happy plotting!

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