How to Create a Scatter Plot in Excel

Excel makes visualizing data easy

In Excel, a scatter chart displays data points positioned at coordinates located on an x-axis and y-axis. Scatter charts are sometimes called X and Y charts, scatter plots, scatter diagrams, or scatter graphs. All of these names refer to charts that visualize data with Cartesian (x,y) coordinates.

As Excel’s tip indicators suggest, a scatter chart helps you compare pairs of values. The pattern created by plotted points can help people understand the relationship between two variables. 

Excel can calculate and display a line based on point locations. Below are steps on how to create a scatter plot in Excel.

Instructions in this article apply to Excel 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, Excel 2016, 2011 for Mac, Excel 365, and Microsoft Excel on Android and iOS

Zoomed in photo shows Excel with Data in column A and B, and Insert > Scatter (X,Y) Chart menu icon selected

How to Create a Scatter Chart in Excel on Windows or macOS

To create a scatter plot in Excel on laptop or desktop systems, follow these steps.

  1. Check your data set to make sure you have at least two columns (or rows) of data. Ideally, the first cell in each sequence will contain a text entry that describes the numbers that follow, such as “Mileage of Car” or “Annual Maintenance Expense”.

    Two columns of data in Excel.
  2. With your mouse, select the cell in the upper left of the data you want to chart, then drag the cursor to the lower right cell of the data set to select it.

    Two columns of data has been selected in Excel.
  3. Select Insert.

    Selecting the Insert tab in Excel.
  4. In Charts, select the Scatter (X, Y) or Bubble Chart dropdown.

    Screenshot shows Data columns selected, cursor over Insert > Insert Scatter (X,Y) or Bubble Chart icon.
  5. Select More Scatter Charts at the bottom of the menu.

    Screenshot of Scatter plot icon selected, cursor over More Scatter Charts menu item.
  6. Select the Scatter chart option you prefer. (Scatter, Scatter with Smooth Lines and Markers, Scatter with Smooth Lines, Scatter with Straight Lines and Markers, Scatter with Straight Lines, Bubble, or 3-D Bubble)

    Screenshot of selecting what type of scatter plot to use in Excel.
  7. Select whether you want to compare the two columns of data, or use the two columns as x- and y-axis indicators, respectively. Select the chart style, then select OK.

    Selecting what data to use in a scatter plot in Excel.
  8. Excel should now have inserted a chart into your spreadsheet that displays your data. If your chart title, axis labels, and other chart elements meet your needs, you may stop at this point. However, in most cases, you’ll need to adjust one or more chart elements.

    A scatter plot has been created in Excel.
  9. Click (or tap) on blank space in the chart to select the chart.

    The scatter plot is selected in Excel.
  10. Next, adjust chart element display options. Select the + key next to the chart to choose which chart elements display. Next to each element, if you select the checkbox, the item will display. Deselect the checkbox to hide an element.

    Screenshot with default Scatter Plot inserted. Note the +, paintbrush, and filter icons shown to the right of the selected chart.

    The chart elements may include Axes, Axis Titles, Chart Title, Data Labels, Error Bars, Gridlines, Legend, and Trendline. Select to the right of an element name to see a triangle that allows access to additional element options. For example, next to Gridlines, you may enable Primary Major Horizontal, Primary Major Vertical, Primary Minor Horizontal, Primary Minor Vertical, or More Options.

    In almost every case, you should enable Axes, Axis Titles, Chart Title, and Gridlines.

  11. If desired, with the chart selected, select Chart Styles (paintbrush) to adjust appearance. You can choose from several different chart styles, as well as select a pre-configured color palette.

    Alternatively, you can double-click (or tap) on a chart element to edit it.

    Changing colors and styles of the scatter plot in Excel.
  12. When complete, click (or tap) once on the chart to select it. Once selected, you may move the chart anywhere on the current sheet. You can resize the chart by selecting and moving any of the chart corners. You may also use Ctrl+C to copy the chart, then Ctrl+V to paste the chart elsewhere in your Excel spreadsheet.

See Microsoft’s guide to creating all sorts of charts within Microsoft Office on Windows or macOS, see Create a chart from start to finish.

How to Create a Scatter Chart in Excel on Android or iOS

To create a scatter plot in Excel on Android or iOS devices, you’ll need to install the Microsoft Excel app on your phone (Install Microsoft Excel on Android or Microsoft Excel for iOS.)

  1. As on desktop devices, check your data set to make sure you have at least two columns (or rows) of data. Ideally, the first cell in each sequence will contain a text entry that describes the numbers that follow, such as “Mileage of Car” or “Annual Maintenance Expense”.

  2. Tap the cell in the upper left of the data you want to chart, then drag the cursor to the lower right cell of the data set to select it. (Denoted by a small circle.)

  3. On larger devices, such as a tablet, tap Insert > Charts > X Y (Scatter).

    On smaller devices, such as a phone, tap the sub-menu item in the lower portion of the screen (it looks like an up-pointing arrow), then tap the word Home.

    Excel on Android screenshots show: Insert menu, Chart, XY (Scatter) menu option sequence
  4. Tap Insert.

  5. Scroll down to Chart and select.

  6. Scroll down and select X Y (Scatter).

    Inserting a chart in Excel for Android.
  7. Select the Scatter chart option you prefer.

  8. Excel should now have inserted a chart into your spreadsheet that displays your data. If your chart title, axis labels, and other chart elements meet your needs, you may stop at this point.

    Excel on Android scatter chart type (left) and Chart details (right).

To adjust individual chart elements on a mobile device, you’ll need to sign in to Microsoft Excel on Android or iOS with an Microsoft 365 subscription. (Those options will be grayed out.) Once you do, you’ll be able to adjust chart elements with the following steps:

  1. Tap on the chart to select it.

  2. Next, tap on menu items such as Layouts, Elements, Colors, or Styles to access and adjust various chart items.

    Excel on Android screenshots: (left) tap chart to select, (middle) Chart element edit options, (right) edit Axis Titles

The process for creating a scatter plot on mobile, laptop, and desktop systems is remarkably similar. Enter your data, select it, insert a chart, then adjust the chart details. The challenge remains making sure that a scatter chart is an appropriate way to visualize your data, and selecting the scatter chart style that best illustrates your point.