Create a waterfall chart in Office 2016

A waterfall chart shows a running total as values are added or subtracted. It's useful for understanding how an initial value (for example, net income) is affected by a series of positive and negative values.

The columns are color coded so you can quickly tell positive from negative numbers. The initial and the final value columns often start on the horizontal axis, while the intermediate values are floating columns. Because of this "look", waterfall charts are also called bridge charts.

Image of a Waterfall chart in Office 2016 for Windows

Create a waterfall chart

  1. Select your data.

    Data used to create the example waterfall chart
    Data used to create the example waterfall chart above
  2. Click Insert > Insert Waterfall or Stock chart > Waterfall.

    Art showing  ribbon commands to insert a Waterfall chart

    You can also use the All Charts tab in Recommended Charts to create a waterfall chart.

Tip: Use the Design and Format tabs to customize the look of your chart. If you don't see these tabs, click anywhere in the waterfall chart to add the Chart Tools to the ribbon.

Design and Format tabs for the Chart Tools

Start subtotals or totals from the horizontal axis

If your data includes values that are considered Subtotals or Totals, such as Net Income, you can set those values so they start on the horizontal axis at zero and don't "float".

  • Double-click a data point to open the Format Data Point task pane, and check the Set as total box.

    Format Data Point task pane with the Set as total option checked in Office 2016 for Windows

    Note: If you single-click the column, you'll select the data series and not the data point.

    To make the column "float" again, uncheck the Set as total box.

    Tip: You can also set totals by right-clicking on a data point and picking Set as Total from the shortcut menu.

Show or hide connector lines

Connector lines connect the end of each column to the beginning of the next column, helping show the flow of the data in the chart.

  • To hide the connector lines, right-click a data series to open the Format Data Series task pane, and uncheck the Show connector lines box.

    Format Data Point task pane with the Show Connector Lines box unchecked in Office 2016

    To show the lines again, check the Show connector lines box.

Tip: The chart legend groups the different types of data points in the chart: Increase, Decrease, and Total. Clicking a legend entry highlights all the columns that make up that group on the chart.

To read more about the waterfall chart and its uses, see this blog post on the waterfall chart by the Excel team. You may also be interested learning more about the other new chart types described in this blog post.

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