How to Create a Chart in Excel Using Shortcut Keys

Mature businessman sitting at desk in office looking at smartwatch
Westend61 / Getty Images

If you ever need a chart in a hurry or you just want to check on certain trends in your data, you can create a chart in Excel with a single keystroke. One of Excel's lesser-known chart features is that the program has a default chart that can be activated using keyboard shortcut keys. If you find the function useful, you can then customize different templates to better suit your needs in the future.

of 04

Adding a Quick Chart to Your Worksheet or Workbook

Screenshot of Excel showing a chart.

The quick chart key-shortcut allows users to quickly add a commonly used chart to their current worksheet or to a separate worksheet in the current workbook. Let's start by adding a new chart to our existing workbook, but in a new worksheet with the following steps:

  1. Select the data you want to use in the chart.
  2. Press the F11 key on your keyboard.

A chart will now be created and added to a separate worksheet in the current workbook. If the factory default settings haven't been changed, the chart created by pressing F11 is a column chart.

Mac users may need to hold down the Fn key on their keyboard while pressing any function keys such as F1. Additionally, some functions such as F11 may not work unless macOS hotkeys, such as expose, are first disabled.

As well as adding a copy of the chart to a separate worksheet, that same chart can be added to the current worksheet, the worksheet where the chart data is located, by using different keyboard shortcut keys.

  1. Select the data you want to use in the chart.
  2. Press and hold down the Alt key on the keyboard — if you are on a Mac, substitute the Alt key for the Option key.
  3. Press and release the F1 key on the keyboard.

Now, a new chart is created and added to your current worksheet, alongside your data.

of 04

Changing the Chart Type

Screenshot of Excel showing chart types.

If pressing F11 or Alt + F1 produces a chart that isn't to your liking, you can change the chart with the help of built-in templates. The easiest way to change the default chart type in Excel is via the ribbon bar at the top of the window.

  1. Select your chart by clicking on it.
  2. In the ribbon bar, select the Chart Design tab.
  3. Select the Change Chart Type option.
  4. Select the type of chart you would like to use.
  5. Lastly, select the style of the chart.
of 04

Creating and Saving Chart Templates

Screenshot of Excel showing how to save a chart template.

If you want to easily jump to a predefined chart style, you can save a specific configuration for quick access in the future. If you haven't yet created a template that can be used, the easiest way to do this is to first create a chart that includes all of your desired formatting options including background color, scale settings, and font type.

Next, follow these steps to save your new chart template:

  1. Right-click on the chart.
  2. Choose to Save as Template from the context menu to open the ​Save Chart Template dialog box.
  3. Name the template.
  4. Click the Save button to save the template and close the dialog box.

The chart template file is saved as a .crtx file to the following location:

C:\Documents and Settings\<USERNAME>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates\Charts

of 04

Deleting a Chart Template

Screenshot of Excel showing how to manage charts.

If you're no longer in love with a chart template that you have created, you can easily delete it to remove it from your list of template options in Excel; this task can be accomplished with the following steps:

  1. In the menu bar at the top of your screen, select the Insert option.
  2. Next, select Chart sub-menu option.
  3. Next, select the Chart Templates option.
  4. Delete any unwanted charts from the window that appears by right-clicking on it and selecting the Delete/Trash option.