How to Make and Format a Column Chart in Excel

Change colors, add formatting, and move your charts

Image of a person reviewing the formatting of a column chart

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In Microsoft Excel, use column charts to compare data in a visual format. Column charts are also a great way to show data changes over a period of time or to illustrate item comparisons. Add text formatting and change the chart colors to make your information stand out.

Here's a look at creating column charts as well as applying new formatting.

The information in this article applies to Excel for Microsoft 365, Excel 2019, Excel 2016, Excel 2013, Excel 2010, and Excel 2007.

How to Make a Column Chart in Excel

Follow these steps to create a basic column chart in Excel.

  1. Enter data into an Excel spreadsheet.

  2. Select the data to be included in the chart. Include row and column headings but not the title for the data table.

  3. In Excel 2016, select the Insert > Insert Column or Bar Chart icon, and then select a column chart option.

    In Excel 2013, select the Insert > Insert Column Chart icon, and then select a column chart option.

    In Excel 2010 and Excel 2007, select Insert > Column, and then select a column chart option.

    A screenshot showing how to create a basic chart in Excel

Format Your Excel Chart

After you've created a chart in Excel, there are several ways to format the chart to make it more readable or stand out more.

  1. Select the chart you want to format.

    The easiest way to select the entire chart is to select the top left or the top right corner away from the chart title.

  2. To apply a different chart layout, select Design > Charts Layout, and select a layout.

  3. To apply a different chart style, select Design > Chart Styles, and then choose another style.

  4. To apply a different shape style, select Format > Shape Styles, and then choose another shape style.

    A shape style formats only the chart's border.

  5. To add different shape effects, select Format > Shape Effects, and then choose from the available options.

  6. To apply a theme, select Page Layout > Themes, and then select a new theme.

If you want to format only a specific component of a chart, such as the Chart Area or Axis, select Format and then chose the component from the Chart Elements dropdown box. Select Format Selection, and change anything you want to modify.

Add and Edit a Chart Title

To add a title to your chart:

  1. In the chart, select the Chart Title box and type a title.

  2. Select the green plus (+) sign on the right side of the chart.

  3. Select the arrow next to Chart Title.

  4. Select the desired placement of your title. Or for further formatting options, select More Options.

    A screenshot showing how to change the location of the chart title in Excel

    In Excel 2010 and 2007, basic charts do not include chart titles. These must be added separately. Select Layout > Chart Title to add a chart title.

Change Column Colors

  1. Select a column in the chart to select all its matching columns.

  2. Select Format.

  3. Select Shape Fill to open the Fill Colors dropdown panel.

  4. Choose a color.

    A screenshot showing how to change the color of chart elements in Excel

Move the Chart to a Separate Sheet

Moving a chart to a separate sheet makes it easier to print the chart. It can also relieve congestion in a large worksheet full of data.

  1. Select the chart's background to select the entire chart.

  2. Select the Design tab.

  3. Select Move Chart to open the Move Chart dialog box.

  4. Select the New sheet option and give the sheet a name.

  5. Select OK to close the dialog box. The chart is now located on a separate worksheet, and the new name is visible on the sheet tab.

    A screenshot showing how to move a chart to a new worksheet in Excel