Chart types

The charting feature in Office makes it easy to create an attractive chart in Excel and then add it to your document.

Note: Some of the content in this topic may not be applicable to some languages.

Many chart types are available to help you display data in ways that are meaningful to your audience. Here are some examples of the most common chart types and how they can be used.

chart column

Data that is arranged in columns or rows on an Excel sheet can be plotted in a column chart. In column charts, categories are typically organized along the horizontal axis and values along the vertical axis.

Column charts are useful to show how data changes over time or to show comparisons among items.

Column charts have the following chart subtypes:

  • Clustered column chart     Compares values across categories. A clustered column chart displays values in 2-D vertical rectangles. A clustered column in a 3-D chart displays the data by using a 3-D perspective.

  • Stacked column chart     Shows the relationship of individual items to the whole, comparing the contribution of each value to a total across categories. A stacked column chart displays values in 2-D vertical stacked rectangles. A 3-D stacked column chart displays the data by using a 3-D perspective. A 3-D perspective is not a true 3-D chart because a third value axis (depth axis) is not used.

  • 100% stacked column chart     Compares the percentage that each value contributes to a total across categories. A 100% stacked column chart displays values in 2-D vertical 100% stacked rectangles. A 3-D 100% stacked column chart displays the data by using a 3-D perspective. A 3-D perspective is not a true 3-D chart because a third value axis (depth axis) is not used.

  • 3-D column chart     Uses three axes that you can change (a horizontal axis, a vertical axis, and a depth axis). They compare data points along the horizontal and the depth axes.

chart line

Data that is arranged in columns or rows on an Excel sheet can be plotted in a line chart. Line charts can display continuous data over time, set against a common scale, and are therefore ideal to show trends in data at equal intervals. In a line chart, category data is distributed evenly along the horizontal axis, and all value data is distributed evenly along the vertical axis.

Line charts work well if your category labels are text, and represent evenly spaced values such as months, quarters, or fiscal years.

Line charts have the following chart subtypes:

  • Line chart with or without markers     Shows trends over time or ordered categories, especially when there are many data points and the order in which they are presented is important. If there are many categories or the values are approximate, use a line chart without markers.

  • Stacked line chart with or without markers     Shows the trend of the contribution of each value over time or ordered categories. If there are many categories or the values are approximate, use a stacked line chart without markers.

  • 100% stacked line chart displayed with or without markers     Shows the trend of the percentage each value contributes over time or ordered categories. If there are many categories or the values are approximate, use a 100% stacked line chart without markers.

  • 3-D line chart     Shows each row or column of data as a 3-D ribbon. A 3-D line chart has horizontal, vertical, and depth axes that you can change.

chart pie

Data that is arranged in one column or row only on an Excel sheet can be plotted in a pie chart. Pie charts show the size of items in one data series, proportional to the sum of the items. The data points in a pie chart are displayed as a percentage of the whole pie.

Consider using a pie chart when you have only one data series that you want to plot, none of the values that you want to plot are negative, almost none of the values that you want to plot are zero values, you don't have more than seven categories, and the categories represent parts of the whole pie.

Pie charts have the following chart subtypes:

  • Pie chart     Displays the contribution of each value to a total in a 2-D or 3-D format. You can pull out slices of a pie chart manually to emphasize the slices.

  • Pie of pie or bar of pie chart     Displays pie charts with user-defined values that are extracted from the main pie chart and combined into a secondary pie chart or into a stacked bar chart. These chart types are useful when you want to make small slices in the main pie chart easier to distinguish.

  • Doughnut chart     Like a pie chart, a doughnut chart shows the relationship of parts to a whole. However, it can contain more than one data series. Each ring of the doughnut chart represents a data series. Displays data in rings, where each ring represents a data series. If percentages are displayed in data labels, each ring will total 100%.

    chart doughnut

chart bar

Data that is arranged in columns or rows on an Excel sheet can be plotted in a bar chart.

Use bar charts to show comparisons among individual items.

Bar charts have the following chart subtypes:

  • Clustered bar and 3-D Clustered bar chart     Compares values across categories. In a clustered bar chart, the categories are typically organized along the vertical axis, and the values along the horizontal axis. A clustered bar in 3-D chart displays the horizontal rectangles in 3-D format. It does not display the data on three axes.

  • Stacked bar and 3-D Stacked bar chart     Shows the relationship of individual items to the whole. A stacked bar in 3-D chart displays the horizontal rectangles in 3-D format. It does not display the data on three axes.

  • 100% stacked bar chart and 100% stacked bar chart in 3-D      Compares the percentage that each value contributes to a total across categories. A 100% stacked bar in 3-D chart displays the horizontal rectangles in 3-D format. It does not display the data on three axes.

chart scatter

Data that is arranged in columns and rows on an Excel sheet can be plotted in an xy (scatter) chart. A scatter chart has two value axes. It shows one set of numeric data along the horizontal axis (x-axis) and another along the vertical axis (y-axis). It combines these values into single data points and displays them in irregular intervals, or clusters.

Scatter charts show the relationships among the numeric values in several data series, or plot two groups of numbers as one series of xy coordinates. Scatter charts are typically used for displaying and comparing numeric values, such as scientific, statistical, and engineering data.

Scatter charts have the following chart subtypes:

  • Scatter chart      Compares pairs of values. Use a scatter chart with data markers but without lines if you have many data points and connecting lines would make the data more difficult to read. You can also use this chart type when you do not have to show connectivity of the data points.

  • Scatter chart with smooth lines and scatter chart with smooth lines and markers     Displays a smooth curve that connects the data points. Smooth lines can be displayed with or without markers. Use a smooth line without markers if there are many data points.

  • Scatter chart with straight lines and scatter chart with straight lines and markers     Displays straight connecting lines between data points. Straight lines can be displayed with or without markers.

  • Bubble chart or bubble chart with 3-D effect    A bubble chart is a kind of xy (scatter) chart, where the size of the bubble represents the value of a third variable. Compares sets of three values instead of two. The third value determines the size of the bubble marker. You can choose to display bubbles in 2-D format or with a 3-D effect.

    chart bubble

chart area

Data that is arranged in columns or rows on an Excel sheet can be plotted in an area chart. By displaying the sum of the plotted values, an area chart also shows the relationship of parts to a whole.

Area charts emphasize the magnitude of change over time, and can be used to draw attention to the total value across a trend. For example, data that represents profit over time can be plotted in an area chart to emphasize the total profit.

Area charts have the following chart subtypes:

  • Area chart     Displays the trend of values over time or other category data. 3-D area charts use three axes (horizontal, vertical, and depth) that you can change. Generally, consider using a line chart instead of a nonstacked area chart because data from one series can be obscured by data from another series.

  • Stacked area chart     Displays the trend of the contribution of each value over time or other category data. A stacked area chart in 3-D is displayed in the same manner but uses a 3-D perspective. A 3-D perspective is not a true 3-D chart because a third value axis (depth axis) is not used.

  • 100% stacked area chart     Displays the trend of the percentage that each value contributes over time or other category data. A 100% stacked area chart in 3-D is displayed in the same manner but uses a 3-D perspective. A 3-D perspective is not a true 3-D chart because a third value axis (depth axis) is not used.

chart stock

Data that is arranged in columns or rows in a specific order on an Excel sheet can be plotted in a stock chart.

As its name implies, a stock chart is most frequently used to show the fluctuation of stock prices. However, this chart may also be used for scientific data. For example, you could use a stock chart to indicate the fluctuation of daily or annual temperatures.

Stock charts have the following chart sub-types:

  • High-Low-Close stock chart     Illustrates stock prices. It requires three series of values in the correct order: high, low, and then close.

  • Open-High-Low-Close stock chart     Requires four series of values in the correct order: open, high, low, and then close.

  • Volume-High-Low-Close stock chart     Requires four series of values in the correct order: volume, high, low, and then close. It measures volume by using two value axes: one for the columns that measure volume, and the other for the stock prices.

  • Volume-Open-High-Low-Close stock chart     Requires five series of values in the correct order: volume, open, high, low, and then close.

chart surface

Data that is arranged in columns or rows on an Excel sheet can be plotted in a surface chart. As in a topographic map, colors and patterns indicate areas that are in the same range of values.

A surface chart is useful when you want to find optimal combinations between two sets of data.

Surface charts have the following chart subtypes:

  • 3-D surface chart     Shows trends in values across two dimensions in a continuous curve. Color bands in a surface chart do not represent the data series. They represent the difference between the values. This chart shows a 3-D view of the data, which can be imagined as a rubber sheet stretched over a 3-D column chart. It is typically used to show relationships between large amounts of data that may otherwise be difficult to see.

  • Wireframe 3-D surface chart     Shows only the lines. A wireframe 3-D surface chart is not easy to read, but this chart type is useful for faster plotting of large data sets.

  • Contour chart     Surface charts viewed from above, similar to 2-D topographic maps. In a contour chart, color bands represent specific ranges of values. The lines in a contour chart connect interpolated points of equal value.

  • Wireframe contour chart     Surface charts viewed from above. Without color bands on the surface, a wireframe chart shows only the lines. Wireframe contour charts are not easy to read. You may want to use a 3-D surface chart instead.

chart radar

In a radar chart, each category has its own value axis radiating from the center point. Lines connect all the values in the same series.

Use radar charts to compare the aggregate values of several data series.

Radar charts have the following chart subtypes:

  • Radar chart     Displays changes in values in relation to a center point.

  • Radar with markers    Displays changes in values in relation to a center point with markers.

  • Filled radar chart     Displays changes in values in relation to a center point, and fills the area covered by a data series with color.

You can use a Map Chart to compare values and show categories across geographical regions. Use it when you have geographical regions in your data, like countries/regions, states, counties or postal codes.

Excel MapChart with Value data Excel Map Chart by Category

For more information, see Create a map chart.

Funnel charts show values across multiple stages in a process.

Funnel chart showing sales pipeline; stages listed in the first column, values in the second

Typically, the values decrease gradually, allowing the bars to resemble a funnel. For more information, see Create a funnel chart.

The treemap chart provides a hierarchical view of your data and an easy way to compare different levels of categorization. The treemap chart displays categories by color and proximity and can easily show lots of data which would be difficult with other chart types. The treemap chart can be plotted when empty (blank) cells exist within the hierarchal structure and treemap charts are good for comparing proportions within the hierarchy.

Example of a Treemap Chart in Office 2016 for Windows

There are no chart sub-types for treemap charts.

For more information, see Create a treemap chart.

The sunburst chart is ideal for displaying hierarchical data and can be plotted when empty (blank) cells exist within the hierarchal structure . Each level of the hierarchy is represented by one ring or circle with the innermost circle as the top of the hierarchy. A sunburst chart without any hierarchical data (one level of categories), looks similar to a doughnut chart. However, a sunburst chart with multiple levels of categories shows how the outer rings relate to the inner rings. The sunburst chart is most effective at showing how one ring is broken into its contributing pieces.

Picture of a Sunburst Chart in Office 2016 for Windows

There are no chart sub-types for sunburst charts.

For more information, see Create a sunburst chart.

A waterfall chart shows a running total of your financial data as values are added or subtracted. It's useful for understanding how an initial value is affected by a series of positive and negative values. The columns are color coded so you can quickly tell positive from negative numbers.

Example of a Waterfall chart

There are no chart sub-types for waterfall charts.

For more information, see Create a waterfall chart.

Data plotted in a histogram chart shows the frequencies within a distribution. Each column of the chart is called a bin, which can be changed to further analyze your data.

Sample histogram

Types of histogram charts

  • Histogram    The histogram chart shows the distribution of your data grouped into frequency bins.

    Histogram chart in the Histogram sub-type chart
  • Pareto chart    A pareto is a sorted histogram chart that contains both columns sorted in descending order and a line representing the cumulative total percentage.

    Pareto chart sub-type in the Histogram available charts

More information is available for Histogram and Pareto charts.

A box and whisker chart shows distribution of data into quartiles, highlighting the mean and outliers. The boxes may have lines extending vertically called “whiskers”. These lines indicate variability outside the upper and lower quartiles, and any point outside those lines or whiskers is considered an outlier. Use this chart type when there are multiple data sets which relate to each other in some way.

Sample box and whisker chart

For more information, see Create a box and whisker chart.

Many chart types are available to help you display data in ways that are meaningful to your audience. Here are some examples of the most common chart types and how they can be used.

chart column

Data that is arranged in columns or rows on an Excel sheet can be plotted in a column chart. In column charts, categories are typically organized along the horizontal axis and values along the vertical axis.

Column charts are useful to show how data changes over time or to show comparisons among items.

Column charts have the following chart subtypes:

  • Clustered column chart     Compares values across categories. A clustered column chart displays values in 2-D vertical rectangles. A clustered column in a 3-D chart displays the data by using a 3-D perspective.

  • Stacked column chart     Shows the relationship of individual items to the whole, comparing the contribution of each value to a total across categories. A stacked column chart displays values in 2-D vertical stacked rectangles. A 3-D stacked column chart displays the data by using a 3-D perspective. A 3-D perspective is not a true 3-D chart because a third value axis (depth axis) is not used.

  • 100% stacked column chart     Compares the percentage that each value contributes to a total across categories. A 100% stacked column chart displays values in 2-D vertical 100% stacked rectangles. A 3-D 100% stacked column chart displays the data by using a 3-D perspective. A 3-D perspective is not a true 3-D chart because a third value axis (depth axis) is not used.

  • 3-D column chart     Uses three axes that you can change (a horizontal axis, a vertical axis, and a depth axis). They compare data points along the horizontal and the depth axes.

  • Cylinder, cone, and pyramid chart     Available in the same clustered, stacked, 100% stacked, and 3-D chart types that are provided for rectangular column charts. They show and compare data in the same manner. The only difference is that these chart types display cylinder, cone, and pyramid shapes instead of rectangles.

chart line

Data that is arranged in columns or rows on an Excel sheet can be plotted in a line chart. Line charts can display continuous data over time, set against a common scale, and are therefore ideal to show trends in data at equal intervals. In a line chart, category data is distributed evenly along the horizontal axis, and all value data is distributed evenly along the vertical axis.

Line charts work well if your category labels are text, and represent evenly spaced values such as months, quarters, or fiscal years.

Line charts have the following chart subtypes:

  • Line chart with or without markers     Shows trends over time or ordered categories, especially when there are many data points and the order in which they are presented is important. If there are many categories or the values are approximate, use a line chart without markers.

  • Stacked line chart with or without markers     Shows the trend of the contribution of each value over time or ordered categories. If there are many categories or the values are approximate, use a stacked line chart without markers.

  • 100% stacked line chart displayed with or without markers     Shows the trend of the percentage each value contributes over time or ordered categories. If there are many categories or the values are approximate, use a 100% stacked line chart without markers.

  • 3-D line chart     Shows each row or column of data as a 3-D ribbon. A 3-D line chart has horizontal, vertical, and depth axes that you can change.

chart pie

Data that is arranged in one column or row only on an Excel sheet can be plotted in a pie chart. Pie charts show the size of items in one data series, proportional to the sum of the items. The data points in a pie chart are displayed as a percentage of the whole pie.

Consider using a pie chart when you have only one data series that you want to plot, none of the values that you want to plot are negative, almost none of the values that you want to plot are zero values, you don't have more than seven categories, and the categories represent parts of the whole pie.

Pie charts have the following chart subtypes:

  • Pie chart     Displays the contribution of each value to a total in a 2-D or 3-D format. You can pull out slices of a pie chart manually to emphasize the slices.

  • Pie of pie or bar of pie chart     Displays pie charts with user-defined values that are extracted from the main pie chart and combined into a secondary pie chart or into a stacked bar chart. These chart types are useful when you want to make small slices in the main pie chart easier to distinguish.

  • Exploded pie chart     Displays the contribution of each value to a total while emphasizing individual values. Exploded pie charts can be displayed in 3-D format. You can change the pie explosion setting for all slices and individual slices. However, you cannot move the slices of an exploded pie manually.

chart bar

Data that is arranged in columns or rows on an Excel sheet can be plotted in a bar chart.

Use bar charts to show comparisons among individual items.

Bar charts have the following chart subtypes:

  • Clustered bar chart     Compares values across categories. In a clustered bar chart, the categories are typically organized along the vertical axis, and the values along the horizontal axis. A clustered bar in 3-D chart displays the horizontal rectangles in 3-D format. It does not display the data on three axes.

  • Stacked bar chart     Shows the relationship of individual items to the whole. A stacked bar in 3-D chart displays the horizontal rectangles in 3-D format. It does not display the data on three axes.

  • 100% stacked bar chart and 100% stacked bar chart in 3-D      Compares the percentage that each value contributes to a total across categories. A 100% stacked bar in 3-D chart displays the horizontal rectangles in 3-D format. It does not display the data on three axes.

  • Horizontal cylinder, cone, and pyramid chart     Available in the same clustered, stacked, and 100% stacked chart types that are provided for rectangular bar charts. They show and compare data the same manner. The only difference is that these chart types display cylinder, cone, and pyramid shapes instead of horizontal rectangles.

chart area

Data that is arranged in columns or rows on an Excel sheet can be plotted in an area chart. By displaying the sum of the plotted values, an area chart also shows the relationship of parts to a whole.

Area charts emphasize the magnitude of change over time, and can be used to draw attention to the total value across a trend. For example, data that represents profit over time can be plotted in an area chart to emphasize the total profit.

Area charts have the following chart subtypes:

  • Area chart     Displays the trend of values over time or other category data. 3-D area charts use three axes (horizontal, vertical, and depth) that you can change. Generally, consider using a line chart instead of a nonstacked area chart because data from one series can be obscured by data from another series.

  • Stacked area chart     Displays the trend of the contribution of each value over time or other category data. A stacked area chart in 3-D is displayed in the same manner but uses a 3-D perspective. A 3-D perspective is not a true 3-D chart because a third value axis (depth axis) is not used.

  • 100% stacked area chart     Displays the trend of the percentage that each value contributes over time or other category data. A 100% stacked area chart in 3-D is displayed in the same manner but uses a 3-D perspective. A 3-D perspective is not a true 3-D chart because a third value axis (depth axis) is not used.

chart scatter

Data that is arranged in columns and rows on an Excel sheet can be plotted in an xy (scatter) chart. A scatter chart has two value axes. It shows one set of numeric data along the horizontal axis (x-axis) and another along the vertical axis (y-axis). It combines these values into single data points and displays them in irregular intervals, or clusters.

Scatter charts show the relationships among the numeric values in several data series, or plot two groups of numbers as one series of xy coordinates. Scatter charts are typically used for displaying and comparing numeric values, such as scientific, statistical, and engineering data.

Scatter charts have the following chart subtypes:

  • Scatter chart with markers only     Compares pairs of values. Use a scatter chart with data markers but without lines if you have many data points and connecting lines would make the data more difficult to read. You can also use this chart type when you do not have to show connectivity of the data points.

  • Scatter chart with smooth lines and scatter chart with smooth lines and markers     Displays a smooth curve that connects the data points. Smooth lines can be displayed with or without markers. Use a smooth line without markers if there are many data points.

  • Scatter chart with straight lines and scatter chart with straight lines and markers     Displays straight connecting lines between data points. Straight lines can be displayed with or without markers.

chart bubble

A bubble chart is a kind of xy (scatter) chart, where the size of the bubble represents the value of a third variable.

Bubble charts have the following chart subtypes:

  • Bubble chart or bubble chart with 3-D effect     Compares sets of three values instead of two. The third value determines the size of the bubble marker. You can choose to display bubbles in 2-D format or with a 3-D effect.

chart stock

Data that is arranged in columns or rows in a specific order on an Excel sheet can be plotted in a stock chart.

As its name implies, a stock chart is most frequently used to show the fluctuation of stock prices. However, this chart may also be used for scientific data. For example, you could use a stock chart to indicate the fluctuation of daily or annual temperatures.

Stock charts have the following chart sub-types:

  • High-low-close stock chart     Illustrates stock prices. It requires three series of values in the correct order: high, low, and then close.

  • Open-high-low-close stock chart     Requires four series of values in the correct order: open, high, low, and then close.

  • Volume-high-low-close stock chart     Requires four series of values in the correct order: volume, high, low, and then close. It measures volume by using two value axes: one for the columns that measure volume, and the other for the stock prices.

  • Volume-open-high-low-close stock chart     Requires five series of values in the correct order: volume, open, high, low, and then close.

chart surface

Data that is arranged in columns or rows on an Excel sheet can be plotted in a surface chart. As in a topographic map, colors and patterns indicate areas that are in the same range of values.

A surface chart is useful when you want to find optimal combinations between two sets of data.

Surface charts have the following chart subtypes:

  • 3-D surface chart     Shows trends in values across two dimensions in a continuous curve. Color bands in a surface chart do not represent the data series. They represent the difference between the values. This chart shows a 3-D view of the data, which can be imagined as a rubber sheet stretched over a 3-D column chart. It is typically used to show relationships between large amounts of data that may otherwise be difficult to see.

  • Wireframe 3-D surface chart     Shows only the lines. A wireframe 3-D surface chart is not easy to read, but this chart type is useful for faster plotting of large data sets.

  • Contour chart     Surface charts viewed from above, similar to 2-D topographic maps. In a contour chart, color bands represent specific ranges of values. The lines in a contour chart connect interpolated points of equal value.

  • Wireframe contour chart     Surface charts viewed from above. Without color bands on the surface, a wireframe chart shows only the lines. Wireframe contour charts are not easy to read. You may want to use a 3-D surface chart instead.

chart doughnut

Like a pie chart, a doughnut chart shows the relationship of parts to a whole. However, it can contain more than one data series. Each ring of the doughnut chart represents a data series.

Doughnut charts have the following chart subtypes:

  • Doughnut chart     Displays data in rings, where each ring represents a data series. If percentages are displayed in data labels, each ring will total 100%.

  • Exploded doughnut chart     Displays the contribution of each value to a total while emphasizing individual values. However, they can contain more than one data series.

chart radar

In a radar chart, each category has its own value axis radiating from the center point. Lines connect all the values in the same series.

Use radar charts to compare the aggregate values of several data series.

Radar charts have the following chart subtypes:

  • Radar chart     Displays changes in values in relation to a center point.

  • Filled radar chart     Displays changes in values in relation to a center point, and fills the area covered by a data series with color.

See Also

Create a chart

Edit data in a chart

Add a secondary axis to a chart

Create an organization chart

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