Creating Charts From Table Data

Woman and man looking at charts on two computer screens

Tom Werner / Getty Images 

Different versions of Microsoft Word support different methods of converting the data in a Word table into some sort of graphical form. For example, older versions of Word let you right-click within a table to automatically convert the table to the data behind a graph.

Word 2016 no longer supports this behavior. When you insert a chart into Word 2016, the tool opens an Excel spreadsheet that supports the chart.

To replicate the older behavior in Word 2016, you'll need to insert a Microsoft Graph chart object.

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Selecting the Table for the Chart

Build the table like normal in Word. Ensure that the data cleanly line up in rows and columns. Merged columns and misaligned data, although they may look nice in tabular form, may not translate cleanly into the Microsoft Graph object.

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Inserting the Chart

  1. Highlight the entire table
  2. From the Insert tab, click Object in the Text section of the ribbon. 
  3. Highlight Microsoft Graph Chart and click OK.
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The Chart Is Placed in Your Document

Word will launch Microsoft Graph, which automatically creates a chart based on your table.
The chart appears with a datasheet immediately below it. Modify the datasheet as necessary. 

While you're editing the Microsoft Graph object, the ribbon disappears and the menu and toolbar changes into the Microsoft Graph format.

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Changing the Chart Type

A column chart is the default chart type. But you aren’t restricted to that option. To change chart types, double-click your chart. Right-click inside the chart — in the white space surrounding the graphic — and select Chart Type.

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Changing the Chart Style

The Chart Type dialog box provides you with several different chart styles. Select the type of chart that best meets your needs and click OK.
Word returns to your document; the chart is updated automatically.

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Viewing the Chart Datasheet

When you create a chart, Word opens a datasheet that allows you to modify the chart information. The first column of the datasheet contains the data series. These items are plotted on the graph.
The first row of the datasheet contains the categories. The categories appear along the horizontal axis of the chart.
Values are contained in the cells where the rows and columns intersect.

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Changing the Arrangement of Chart Data

Change the way Word arranges your chart data. Simply double-click the chart and choose Data from the menu bar ​and select Series in Columns or Series in Rows.

After you've made your changes to how your chart appears, Word updates it in your document automatically.