How to make a graph in excel

How to Make a Graph in Excel (2022 Guide)

Over the past years, one of the things we’ve learned is that Microsoft Excel is like a Hallmark movie. 

Some of us can’t get enough of them and others just can’t stand it. 💔😬

Regardless of your preference, if you’re a manager or business owner, you’ll probably have to rely on Excel for business insights. 

And unlike Hallmark movies, you can’t really opt to sit it out.
(Or can you? 🤔)

The point is, tools like Microsoft Excel graphs are helpful for data analysis and tracking.
And wayyy better than endless spreadsheets that can easily trigger a migraine. 

Then why not turn your boring Excel spreadsheet into something interesting?

In this article, we’ll learn what an Excel graph is, how to make a graph in Excel, and its drawbacks. We’ll also suggest an alternative to create effortless graphs.

Let’s graph away!

What are Graphs & Charts in Microsoft Excel?

Graphs in Excel are graphical representations of variations in values of data points over a given period. 

In other words, it’s a diagram that represents changes in comparison to one or more variables.

Too technical? 👀

Take a look at the image for clarity:

Bar Chart in Excel

Wondering if graphs and charts in Excel are the same?

Graphs are mostly numerical representations of data as it shows how one variable is affecting or changing another.

On the other hand, charts are visual representations where variables may or may not be associated. They’re also considered more aesthetically pleasing than graphs. For example, a pie chart. 🥧

However, if you’re wondering how to make a chart in Excel, it isn’t very different from making a graph.

But for now, let’s focus on the main plot: graphs!✨

Steps To Make a Graph in Excel

The first (and obvious step) is to open a new Excel file or a blank Excel worksheet.

Done?

Then let’s learn how to create a graph in Excel.

⭐️ Step 1: fill the Excel sheet with data

Start by populating your Excel spreadsheet with the data you need.

You may import this data from different software, insert it manually, or copy and paste it.

For our example, let’s say you’re an owner of a movie theater in a small town, and you often screen older movies. You probably want to track the sales of your tickets to see which movie is a hit so you can screen it frequently.

Let’s do that by comparing the ticket sales in January and February.

Here’s what your data might look like:

Spreadsheet in Excel

Column A contains the movie names.

Column B contains tickets sold in January.

And column C contains tickets sold in February.

You can bold headings and center align your text for better readability.

Done? Okay, get ready to pick a graph. 😊

Dory telling turtles this is going to be good Finding Nemo

⭐️ Step 2: determine the Excel graph type you want

The type of graph you pick will depend on the data you have and the number of different parameters you want to track.

You’ll find the different graph types under the Excel Insert tab, in the Excel Ribbon, arranged close to one another like this:

Insert tab toolbar in Excel

Note: The Excel Ribbon is where you can find the Home, Insert, and Draw tabs.

Here are some of the different Excel graph or chart type options you can choose from:

  • Line graph
  • Column graph or bar graph
  • Pie graph or chart
  • Combo chart
  • Area chart
  • Scatter plot chart

➡️  Fun fact: Excel can help you decide the graph or chart type with the Recommended Charts (formerly known as Chart Wizard) option. 

If you want to take notes of trends (increase or decrease) over time, then a line graph is perfect.

But for a long time frame and more data, a bar graph is the best option.

We’ll use these two graphs for the purpose of this Excel tutorial.

How To Create a Line Graph in Excel – 3 Steps

A line graph in Excel typically has two axes (horizontal and vertical) to function. 

You need to enter the data in two columns.

Lucky for us, we’ve already done this when creating the ticket sales data table.

⭐️ Step 1: select data to turn into a line graph

Click and drag from the top-left cell (A1) in your ticket sales data to the bottom-right cell (C7) to select. Don’t forget to include column headers.

This will highlight all the data you want to display in your line graph.

Selecting data in Excel spreadsheet

⭐️ Step 2: insert line graph

Now that you’ve selected your data, it’s time to add the line graph.

Look for the line graph icon under the Insert tab.

Graph icon in Excel

With the data selected, go to Insert > Line. Click on the icon, and a dropdown menu will appear to select the type of line chart you want. 

For this example, we’ll choose the fourth 2-D line graph (Line with Markers).

Excel will add your line graph representing your selected data series.

Presenting data as a line graph in Excel

You’ll then notice the names of the movies appear on the horizontal axis and the number of tickets sold on the vertical axis. 

Kronk saying oh yeah it's all coming together Emperor's New Groove

⭐️ Step 3: customize your line graph

After adding the line graph, you’ll notice a new tab called Chart Design on your Excel Ribbon. 

Select the Design tab to make the line graph your own by choosing the chart style you prefer.

Change the design of your line chart in Excel

You can also change the graph’s title.

Select the Chart Title > double click to name > type in the name you wish to call it. To save it, simply click anywhere outside the graph’s title box or chart area.

We’ll name our graph “Movie Ticket Sales.” 

Renaming your line graph in Excel

Anything else you need to tweak?

If you spot anything, now is the time to make those edits! 

For example, here you can see The Godfather and Modern Times are smooshed together.

Let’s give them some space.

How?

Just drag any corner of the graph until it’s how you desire. 

Resize your line graph in Excel

These are just some examples. You can customize every chart element if you like including the Axis Labels (the color of the lines that represent each data point, etc.)

Just double click on any chart element to open a sidebar for formatting like this:

Change the color of the lines in your graph in Excel

That’s it! You’ve successfully created a line graph in Excel, and it looks like you should screen Modern Times more often.

Charlie Chaplin falling on machine lever Modern Times

Now, let’s learn how to make a bar graph. 📊

3 Steps To Create a Bar Graph in Excel

Any Excel graph or Excel chart begins with a populated sheet. 

We’ve already done this, so copy and paste the movie ticket sales data to a new sheet tab in the same Excel workbook.

⭐️ Step 1: select data to turn into a bar graph

Like step 1 for the line graph, you need to select the data you wish to turn into a bar graph.

Drag from cell A1 to C7 to highlight the data.

Selecting data in Excel spreadsheet

⭐️ Step 2: insert bar graph

Highlight your data, go to the Insert tab, and click on the Column chart or graph icon. A dropdown menu should appear.

Select Clustered Bar under the 2-D bar options. 

Note: you can choose a different type of bar chart option like a 3D clustered column or 2D stacked bar, etc.

As soon as you click on the bar graph option, it’ll be added to your Excel sheet.

Present data as bar graph in Excel spreadsheet

⭐️ Step 3: customize your Excel bar graph

Now, you can go to the Chart Design tab in the Excel Ribbon to personalize it.

Click on the Design tab to apply a bar style you prefer from the many options. 

Change the design of your bar graph in Excel

You know the next step! Change the bar graph’s title.

Select the Excel Chart Title > double click on the title box > type in “Movie Ticket Sales.”

Then click anywhere on the excel sheet to save it.

Rename your bar graph in Excel

Note: you can also add other graph elements such as Axis Title, Data Label, Data Table, etc., with the Add Chart Element option. You’ll find it under the Chart Design tab.

And that’s a wrap. 🎬 

You’ve successfully created a bar graph in Excel!

Well, that was fun. 

But the question is, do you have the time for graphs in your busy work schedule?

And that’s just the teaser when it comes to Excel graph drawbacks.

Read on to watch the full movie. 👀

Bonus: Check out these Excel Alternatives!

Create Effortless Graphs With ClickUp

If ClickUp were a Hallmark movie, graphs and this project management tool would be the perfect match. 

A forever kind-of-love. ❤️

Whether you want to create graphs to monitor time, projects, people, ticket sales… you name it because we can do it all within a few clicks.

All without the drawbacks of using Excel!

Excel can be:

  • Time-consuming and manual
  • Complex and pricey
  • Error-prone

The best part?

Most of those functions are automated without manual data entry. Phew.

1. Line Chart Widgets

The Line Chart Widget is a Custom Widget on our Dashboard. Use this ClickUp production to visualize literally anything in the form of a line graph.

It can be tracking profits, total daily sales, or how many movies you’ve watched in a month. 

Like we said, a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g!

Line Chart Widget in ClickUp Dashboards

Visualize any set of values as a line graph with the Line Chart Widget on ClickUp’s Dashboard!

And that’s not it. You can visualize your data in many different ways too.

Just use any of these Custom Widgets:

  • Calculations
  • Bar charts
  • Battery chart
  • Pie chart
  • And more
Pie Chart Custom Widget in ClickUp

Present your data visually as a pie chart with Custome Widgets in ClickUp!

2. Gantt Chart view

Just like it’s difficult to love just one movie genre, we totally get that graphs alone don’t work.

And that’s why we have charts too!

Specifically, ClickUp’s Gantt chart, an interactive chart with live updates and progress tracking that can help you:

Gantt view in ClickUp

Drawing a relationship from one task to a future task in ClickUp’s Gantt Chart view!

3. Table view

If you’re a fan of the Excel grids, ClickUp has your back.

Starring… ClickUp Table view

This view lets you visualize your tasks in the spreadsheet style.

It’s super fast and allows easy navigation between fields, bulk edits, and data export.

➡️ Fun fact: you can quickly copy and paste your table’s data into other programs, like MS Excel. Just click and drag to highlight the cells you want to copy.

Copy and paste data from ClickUp into other programs

Highlight data from your table in ClickUp to copy and paste into other programs!

And that was just the trailer for you. 📽️

Here are some more powerful ClickUp features in store for:

Now Showing: ClickUp 🎥🍿

You can surely make tons of graphs in Excel. 

No doubt there.

But does that make it a smart choice?

I mean, if you have to Google how to make a graph in Excel, maybe that’s your red flag. 🚩

Tools are supposed to make your life easier. 

Take ClickUp, for instance.

Our project management tool can be your graph maker, chart creator, spreadsheet builder, time tracker, workload manager

It’s a hallmark for a quality tool that can be your all-in-one solution.

Get your ClickUp ticket for free today and enjoy watching your graphs come to life in minutes!

woman grabbing popcorn saying this is going to be good

Related readings:

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