How to Make a Bar Graph in Excel

Learn to create better bar charts

When you make a bar chart in Microsoft Excel, it lets you do things like compare data over time, visually track progress, and many other useful things.

Inserting a bar graph in Excel is as simple as selecting a dropdown and choosing the type of bar graph you want. Then you can configure the chart to look however you like.

Here's how to make a bar graph in Excel.

Instructions in this article apply to Excel 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010; Excel for Microsoft 365, Excel for Mac, and Excel Online.

How to Make a Bar Graph in Excel

There are different types of bar graphs you can customize in Excel, but the simplest kind is a bar chart comparing values for individual rows in Excel.

  1. To make a bar graph, highlight the cells you want to graph. Make sure to include both the Labels and the Values, as well as the Header.

    Screenshot of highlighting cells in Excel
  2. Next, select the Insert menu. Under the Charts group in the menu, select the dropdown next to the Bar Charts icon.

    Screenshot of selecting bar charts in Excel

    In Excel 2010 and Excel 2010, the icons in the Chart section of the ribbon, and the list of graph may look different. However you can find 2-D Bar and 3-D Bar in all Excel versions under this list.

  3. At the bottom of this list, click on More Column Charts. In the pop-up window, select Bar from the left pane. Here you'll see 6 bar charts to choose from.

    • Clustered Bar: Each selected label has an individual bar that visually displays the value.
    • Stacked Bar: Individual label values are stacked on top of one another in a single bar.
    • 100% Stacked Bar: Individual label values are stacked on top of one another to represent the percentage of the total sum for each label.
    • 3-D Clustered Bar: Same as clustered but bars are 3-dimensional.
    • 3-D Stacked Bar: Same as stacked bar but bars are 3-dimensional.
    • 3-D 100% Stacked Bar: Same as 100% stacked bar but bars are 3-dimensional.
    Screenshot of choosing bar charts in Excel
  4. When you click OK, the chart will appear in the spreadsheet. Initially, every bar will have the same color. To modify the appearance of the bar graph and vary the bar colors by data series, right-click one of the bars and select Format Data Series. In the Format Data Series pane, select the Fill & Line icon (paint can) and under Fill select Vary colors by point.

    Screenshot of varying bars by color
  5. You can edit the title simply by selecting the Graph title and re-typing a new one.

    Screenshot of changing chart title
  6. You can modify the formatting of any area of the graph, like the plot area or the graph area, by right clicking and selecting the Format option.

    When you're done creating the bar graph in Excel, you can update the labels or data at any time. You'll see those changes reflected automatically in the bar graph.

Comparing Data With a Bar Graph in Excel

You can also compare data in columns by using a clustered bar graph in Excel. This is a great way to identify trends over time for multiple items.

For example, if a teacher wants to follow a students grade averages each month, the teacher can use a spreadsheet with multiple columns for each month.

The procedure below will produce a comparison chart with multiple clustered bars for each label over time.

  1. To build a Clustered Chart, select all the data in your spreadsheet. Make sure to include all Labels, all columns of data, and all Headers.

    Screenshot of selecting spreadsheet data
  2. Select Title from the menu and in the Charts section of the ribbon, select the Bar Charts icon. In the drop-down menu, select either the 2D Bar or 3D Bar clustered chart.

    Screenshot of selecting clustered chart in Excel
  3. This will place the clustered graph in your Excel spreadsheet. You'll notice that for each student's name, a bar of a different color represents each column. The column header shows up at the bottom of the chart to identify what each color represents.

    Screenshot of a clustered bar graph in Excel
  4. Similar to other chart types, you can restyle or modify elements of the graph by right clicking and selecting Format. You can change Colors, Borders, and more.

Adding New Columns to Existing Bar Graph

You aren't stuck with the data you used to originally make your bar graph in Excel. You can add additional columns of data after the graph is in the spreadsheet.

  1. To do this, select the bar graph and the cells the graph contains will highlight. Hold the mouse over the lower right corner of the group of cells (that just highlighted) and drag it to the right over the additional column of data.

    Screenshot of adding a new column to a bar graph
  2. When you're done, you'll see a third bar added to every cluster in the bar graph.

    Screenshot of adding data to a bar graph in Excel
  3. This means you're not stuck with fixed data when you make a bar graph in Excel. Add data however often you need to and the graph will update automatically.