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Building charts and graphs is one of the best ways Visualize data In a clear and easy-to-understand way. (Check out this guide to make better diagrams to learn more.)However, it is not surprising that some people are a bit scared by the prospect of wandering around in Microsoft Excel. (I admit that I like Excel very much, but I work in the marketing operations department, so I like this tool is almost a requirement).

I thought I would share a useful video tutorial and some step-by-step instructions for those who cringe at the idea of ​​organizing a spreadsheet full of data into a chart, you know, method something.

The following are the simple steps required to build a chart or graph in Excel.

Keep in mind that there are many different versions of Excel, so what you see in the video above may not always exactly match what you see in your version. In the video, I used Excel 2022 version 16.49 for Max OS X.

To get the latest instructions, I encourage you to follow the written instructions below (or download them as PDF). Most of the buttons and functions you will see and read are very similar in all versions of Excel.

Download demo data | Download instructions (Mac) | Download instructions (PC)

1. Enter the data into Excel.

First, you need to enter the data into Excel.You may have exported data from other places, for example Marketing software Or survey tools. Or maybe you are entering it manually.

In the example below, in column A, I have a list of answers to the question “Does inbound marketing demonstrate ROI?”, and in columns B, C, and D, I have a list of answers to the question “Your company Is there a formal sales-marketing agreement?” For example, column C, row 2 states that 49% of people with SLA (Service Level Agreement) Also said that inbound marketing shows a return on investment.

How to enter data in an Excel spreadsheet

2. Choose from graph and chart options.

In Excel, the chart and graph options include column (or bar) chart, line chart, pie chart, scatter chart, etc. See how Excel identifies each one in the top navigation bar, as shown in the image below:

Types of graphs and charts in excel

To find chart and graph options, select Insert.

(To help determine which type of chart/graph is best for visualizing your data, check out our free e-book, How to use data visualization to win an audience.)

3. Highlight your data and insert the chart you want into the spreadsheet.

In this example, I will use a bar chart to visualize the data. To make a bar chart, highlight the data and include the X-axis and Y-axis titles. Then, go to the “Insert” tab, and in the chart section, click the column icon. Select the chart you want from the drop-down window that appears.

How to highlight your data and insert the desired graphics into the spreadsheet

In this example, I chose the first 2D column option — just because I prefer flat bar graphs to 3D appearance. See the bar graph of the results below.

Two-dimensional chart of data in Excel spreadsheet

4. If necessary, switch the data on each axis.

If you want to switch the content displayed on the X-axis and Y-axis, right-click the bar graph, click Select Data, and then click Switch Row/Column. This will rearrange which axes carry which data from the list shown below. When finished, click OK at the bottom.

How to switch between chart and graph data on x or y axis in excel

The result graph is as follows:

Charts that exchange data on the x and y axis

5. Adjust the layout and color of the data.

To change the layout of the labels and legend, click the bar chart, and then click the Chart Design tab. Here, you can choose your preferred layout for the chart title, axis title, and legend. In the example shown below, I clicked the option to display softer bar colors and legend below the chart.

To format the legend further, click on it to display the “Format Legend Entries” sidebar as shown below. Here, you can change the fill color of the legend, which will in turn change the color of the column itself. To format other parts of the chart, click on them individually to display the corresponding format window.

How to use the format legend input tool to format the legend of an excel chart or graph

6. Change the size of the chart legend and axis labels.

When you make a chart in Excel for the first time, the size of the axis and legend labels may be a bit small, depending on the chart or chart type you choose (bar chart, pie chart, line chart, etc.) once you create the chart , You will want to enhance these labels to make them clear and easy to read.

To increase the size of the chart labels, click on them individually, instead of displaying a new formatting window, click back to the “Home” tab in the navigation bar at the top of Excel. Then, use the font type and size drop-down fields to expand or shrink the chart legend and axis labels to your liking.

How to change the size of the legend and axis labels of a chart or graph in an Excel spreadsheet

7. If necessary, change the Y-axis measurement options.

To change the type of measurement displayed on the Y axis, click the Y axis percentage in the chart to display the format axis window. Here, you can decide whether you want to display the units located on the “Axis Options” tab, or whether you want to change whether the Y axis displays the percentage as 2 decimal places or 0 decimal places.

How to change the Y-axis measurement value in an Excel spreadsheet

Because my chart automatically sets the maximum percentage of the Y-axis to 60%, I might want to manually change it to 100% to represent my data in a more general range. To do this, I can select the “Maximum” option-the two fields under “Boundary” in the “Format Axis” window-and change the value from 0.6 to 1.

The resulting graph will change to look like the following (I increased the font size of the Y axis through the Home tab, so you can see the difference):

How to change the Y-axis measurement value in the Excel spreadsheet of the secondary field

8. If necessary, reorder your data.

To sort the data so that the respondent’s answers are displayed in reverse order, right-click on your chart and click “Select Data” to display the same option window you called in step 3 above. This time, click the up and down arrows, as shown below, to reverse the order of the data on the chart.

How to reorder data for a chart or graph in an Excel spreadsheet

If there are more than two rows of data to be adjusted, you can also rearrange them in ascending or descending order. To do this, highlight all the data in the cells above the chart, click on the data and choose Sort as shown below. You can choose a sort based on smallest to largest or largest to smallest according to your preferences.

How to reorder the data of a chart or graph in an Excel spreadsheet from small to large

The result graph is as follows:

The final result of reordering data from smallest to largest on the chart or graph in the Excel spreadsheet

9. Name the chart.

Now comes the fun and simple part: naming your graphics. By now, you may have figured out how to do this. This is a simple clarifier.

After the chart is created, the title displayed may be “Chart Title” or something similar, depending on the version of Excel you are using. To change this label, click “Chart Title” to display the typing cursor. Then you can freely customize the title of the chart.

When you have a title you like, click on the homepage on the top navigation bar, and then use the font format options to give your title the emphasis it deserves. See these options below and my final chart:

How to add a title to a graph or chart in an Excel spreadsheet

10. Export your graph or chart.

Once your chart or graph fully meets your requirements, you can save it as an image without taking a screenshot of it in a spreadsheet. This method will provide you with a clear chart image that can be inserted into a PowerPoint presentation, Canva document, or any other visualization template.

To save your excel chart as a photo, right-click on the chart and select Save as picture….

How to export graphs or charts from an Excel spreadsheet

In the dialog box, name the photo of the chart, choose where to save it on your computer, and then choose the file type you want to save it as. In this example, I saved it to my desktop folder in JPEG format. Finally, click Save. How to name a graph or chart in excel using a dialog box

You will have a clear picture of a graph or chart that you can add to any visual design.

The final result of the excel graph or chart that has been exported to PNG

Visualize data like a professional

That’s easy, right? Through this step-by-step tutorial, you will be able to quickly create charts and graphs to visualize the most complex data. Try to combine this tutorial with different graph types (such as pie charts or line charts) to understand which format best describes your data story. You can even use the free excel templates below for marketers to practice customizing more data-intensive graphs and charts.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in June 2018 and has been updated to be comprehensive.

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