In this article, we will take an in-depth look at how to make a bar chart in Excel; but it wouldn’t be fair if we didn’t show you how much quicker it is to create bar charts, graphs and other data visualizations in Vizzlo. Watch the short video below to see the Vizzlo method, or scroll down for step-by-step Excel instructions.

Getting Started

To start creating your bar chart, begin with a blank worksheet in Excel and enter the data you want to visualize. Select your data set and in the “Insert” tab, select the bar chart from the various chart options. You can choose between different styles like 2D or 3D as well as horizontal bars or vertical columns.

a screenshot depicting how to create a bar chart in excel

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Create a Chart With Multiple Dependent Variables

If you want to visualize data with more than one variable, grouped/clustered bar charts work the same way as if you would only have a single variable. In the following examples, we will use a clustered example. To create a chart like this, simply add all the data you need to have visualized to your spreadsheet and then generate the bar chart as usual. You still have the choice between bars, columns, and 2D or 3D versions of both.

a screenshot depicting how to create a bar chart with multiple variables in excel

Create a Stacked Bar Chart in Excel

The steps to create a stacked bar chart in Excel are the same as you would take to create a regular bar chart or any other chart in Excel for that matter. Simply mark the data in your spreadsheet and, on the “Insert” tab, select the stacked chart that best suits your needs. Keep an eye on the fact that there are two main versions of stacked bar charts, either the regular stacked bar that works like any other bar chart, and the 100% stacked bar chart, which displays relative sizes, i.e., all bars have the same length and represent 100% of each of your categories.

a screenshot depicting how to create a stacked bar chart in excel

Edit Data

If you have to edit any of your data, there is no need to create a new chart, you can just change the data and your chart will update automatically. If your chart is implemented in other office documents, it should update there as well. For third party documents, you need to insert your updated chart again.

Design

After you have created your bar chart, you can edit the design of the graph either by selecting a pre-made design that excel offers you in the “design” tab. Alternatively, you can use your color schemes by right-clicking on the bar chart and selecting “Format Data Series.” Then, select colors, gradients, opacity, and other elements like glow, 3D effects, and shading.

a screenshot showing how to change the desoign of a bar chart in excel

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Edit Background

If you need to edit the background, right-click the chart area, and select “Format Chart Area.” In this menu, you have the options to change borders, fill and size of the whole chart and format design options like a glow or 3D effects. There is also the option to edit the text elements via the “Text Options” field. However, you should keep in mind that what you change here will apply to any text, meaning title, legend, and labels are all affected. To edit them individually, follow these steps:

a screenshot depicting how to edit the background of a bar chart in excel

Labels & Title

Data labels will automatically appear when you create your chart. If this is not the case, right-click the chart and select “Add Data Labels.” If you need to edit size and color, select the “Format” tab on your home bar and in the drop down list, select the one you want to edit (e.g. vertical axis). To reposition your Labels, simply click and drag them to the desired position.

To format the chart title, right-click it and select “Format Chart Title.”

a screenshot showing how to format labels and titles of bar charts

Want an easier way to format your chart and labels? Vizzlo’s free bar chart creator has you covered!

Legend

To edit the legend, right-click your legend and select “Format Legend” to change the position as well as color and design options like gradients or opacity.

Adjusting Axis & Gridlines

To adjust the different axis in your graph, you can either right click the desired axis or gridlines and select “format axis” / “format gridlines” or, in the format tab of your home bar, use the dropdown list on the left hand side.

a screenshot explaining how to format axis and gridlines for bar charts

Move Chart

To re-position the chart within a sheet, you need to click and drag it to the desired position. In case you want to move the chart to another sheet, right-click the chart and select “Move Chart.” You can then either choose an existing sheet or create a new sheet to move it to.

a screenshot depicting how to move a bar chart between and within sheets of excel

Change Font

To change the font of any of the text boxes, right-click them and select “Font….” in the following menu you can edit the font, size, spacing, color and some additional design effects.

a screenshot showing how to change a bar charts font in excel

For an easy way to change fonts, head over to our free bar chart creator!

Start designing your own charts and business graphics.

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Vizzlo's bar charts: examples and key features

  • Vertical and horizontal views
  • Growth rates (CAGR), reference lines, trendlines, and benchmarks
  • Custom number formats and colors
Learn more about Vizzlo's bar charts

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