How to Create a Bar Graph/Column Chart in Excel

01
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Create a Bar Graph/Column Chart with the Chart Wizard in Excel 2003

Create a Bar Graph in Excel
Create a Bar Graph in Excel. © Ted French

This tutorial covers using the Chart Wizard in Excel 2003 to create a bar graph. It guides you through using the most common features found on the four screens of the Chart Wizard.

The Chart Wizard is composed of a series of dialog boxes that give you all the available options for creating a chart.

The Four Dialog Boxes or Steps of the Chart Wizard

  1. Choosing the chart type such as pie chart, bar chart, or line chart.
  2. Selecting or verifying the data that will be used to create the chart.
  3. Adding titles to the chart and choosing various chart options such as adding labels and a legend.
  4. Deciding whether to put the chart on the same page as the data or on a separate sheet.

Note: What many of us call a bar graph is referred to, in Excel, as a column chart, or a bar chart.

The Chart Wizard Is No More

The chart wizard was removed from Excel starting with version 2007. It has been replaced with charting options located under the insert tab of the ribbon.

If you have a version of the program later than Excel 2003, use the following links for other graph/chart tutorials in Excel:

02
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Entering the Bar Graph Data

Create a Bar Graph in Excel
Create a Bar Graph in Excel. © Ted French

The first step in creating an bar graph is to enter the data into the worksheet.

When entering the data, keep these rules in mind:

  1. Don't leave blank rows or columns when entering your data.
  2. Enter your data in columns.

Note: When laying out your spreadsheet, list the names describing the data in one column and to the right of that, the data itself. If there is more than one data series, list them one after the other in columns with the title for each data series at the top.

To follow this tutorial, enter the data located in step 9 of this tutorial.

03
of 09

Select the Bar Graph Data - Two Options

Create a Bar Graph in Excel
Create a Bar Graph in Excel. © Ted French

Using the Mouse

  1. Drag select with the mouse button to highlight the cells containing the data to be included in the bar graph.

Using the Keyboard

  1. Click on the top left of the bar graph's data.
  2. Hold down the SHIFT key on the keyboard.
  3. Use the arrow keys on the keyboard to select the data to be included in the bar graph.

Note: Be sure to select any column and row titles that you want included in the graph.

For This Tutorial

  1. Highlight the block of cells from A2 to D5, which includes the column titles and the row headings
04
of 09

How to Start the Chart Wizard

The Chart Wizard Icon on the Standard Toolbar
The Chart Wizard Icon on the Standard Toolbar. © Ted French

You have two choices for starting the Excel Chart Wizard.

  1. Click on the Chart Wizard icon on the standard toolbar (see image example above)
  2. Choose Insert > Chart... from the menu.

For This Tutorial

  1. Start the Chart Wizard using the method you prefer.

The following pages work through the four steps of the Chart Wizard.

05
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Step 1 - Choosing a Graph Type

Create a Bar Graph in Excel
Create a Bar Graph in Excel. © Ted French

Remember: What most of us call a bar graph is referred to, in Excel, as a column chart, or a bar chart.

Pick a Chart on the Standard Tab

  1. Pick a Chart type from the left panel.
  2. Pick a chart sub-type from the right panel.

Note: If you want to create graphs that are a bit more exotic, choose the Custom Types tab at the top of the Chart Type dialog box.

For This Tutorial
(on the Standard Chart Types tab)

  1. Choose the Column chart type in the left hand pane.
  2. Choose the Clustered Column chart sub-type in the right hand pane.
  3. Click Next.
06
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Step 2 - Preview Your Bar Graph

Create a Bar Graph in Excel
Create a Bar Graph in Excel. © Ted French
  • If you select your data before starting the Excel Chart Wizard, you will see an example of your bar graph in the top window of the dialog box.
  • On your spreadsheet, the data that has been included in the graph is surrounded by the marching ants—the animated black border around your data.
  • Below the preview window is a box containing the cell references of the data range included in the graph.
  • If your bar graph doesn't look right, check to make sure you selected the right data range in the spreadsheet.

For This Tutorial

  1. If your graph appears correct in the preview window, click Next.
07
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Step 3 - Formatting the Bar Graph

Create a Bar Graph in Excel
Create a Bar Graph in Excel. © Ted French

Although there are many options under the six tabs for modifying the appearance of your graph in this step, we will only be adding a title to our bar graph.

All parts of the graph can be modified after you have completed the Chart Wizard.

It is not necessary to make all of your formatting options right now.

For This Tutorial

  1. Click on the titles tab at the top of the dialog box.
  2. In the Chart title box, type the title The Cookie Shop 2003 - 2005 Income.

Note: As you type the titles, they should be added to the preview window to the right.

08
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Step 4 - Graph Location

Chart Wizard Step 4 of 4
Chart Wizard Step 4 of 4. © Ted French

There are only two choices for where you want to place your bar graph:

  1. As a new sheet (places the graph on a different sheet from your data in the workbook)
  2. As an object in a sheet 1 (places the graph on the same sheet as your data in the workbook)

For This Tutorial

  1. Click the radio button to place the graph as an object in sheet 1.
  2. Click Finish

Formatting the Bar Graph

Once the chart wizard is finished, your bar graph will be placed on the worksheet. The graph still needs to be formatted before it can be considered complete.

09
of 09

Bar Graph Tutorial Data

Enter the data below in the cells indicated to create the bar graph covered in this tutorial. There is no worksheet formatting covered in this tutorial, but that will not affect your bar graph.


Cell - Data
A1 - Income Summary - The Cookie Shop
A3 - Total Revenues:
A4 - Total Expenses:
A5 - Profit/Loss:
B2 - 2003
B3 - 82837
B4 - 57190
B5 - 25674
C2 - 2004
C3 - 83291
C4 - 59276
C5 - 26101
D2 - 2005
D3 - 75682
D4 - 68645
D5 - 18492

Return to Step 2 of this tutorial.