Insert a bar chart

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Quickly add a bar chart to your presentation, and see how to arrange the data to get the result you want. Customize chart elements, apply a chart style and colors, and insert a linked Excel chart.

Add a bar chart to a presentation in PowerPoint

Use a bar chart to illustrate comparisons over a period of time. When you need a bar chart in a presentation, use PowerPoint to create it, if the data is relatively simple and won’t need frequent updates (otherwise, see Copy an Excel chart below in this summary). Here’s how:

  1. Click INSERT > Chart.

  2. Click the chart type and then double-click the chart you want. For help deciding which chart is best for your data, see Available chart types.

  3. In the spreadsheet that appears, replace the default data with your own information.

  4. When you have finished, close the spreadsheet.

Want more?

Change the format of data labels in a chart

Copy an Excel chart to another Office program

Use a bar chart to illustrate comparisons over a period of time.

In this chart, showing Annual Expenses, we are comparing Actual expenses against Projected ones, shown by horizontal bars.

The values for the bars are displayed along the horizontal axis.

The units of time, Annual Quarters, are listed along the vertical axis.

With its horizontal orientation, a bar chart works especially well with the landscape orientation of a slide.

When you need a bar chart in a presentation, use PowerPoint to create it, if the data is relatively simple and won’t need frequent updates.

By contrast, if your data is more complex or you plan to update it frequently, create the chart in Excel, and copy it into PowerPoint.

We cover this in Movie 3: Insert a linked Excel bar chart.

To create a bar chart in PowerPoint, on the HOME tab, click the arrow next to New Slide and select Blank to insert a blank slide.

Then click INSERT, Chart, and choose Bar.

The default chart is a Clustered Bar type. I’ll point to it for a larger preview.

The compared values are shown in bars, clustered next to each other.

That’s what I want for my data, so I’ll click OK.

The chart is inserted, and a small window, with the placeholder data, appears. We’ll type our data here.

We’ll start with the categories, where we’ll type in a heading for each quarter.

Now, for bar charts, the categories appear in the reverse order of what you might expect.

Category 1, on the top row of the data window, appears at the bottom in the chart.

So, I’ll start with Quarter 4. I click the cell, type: QTR4, QTR3, QTR2, and QTR1, and press Enter.

The headings appear in the chart, and their order starts with QTR1.

For the series, we’ll first type headings for the data: Projected expenses and Actual ones.

We don’t have a third series to compare, so I’ll point to the D column and click to select it, right-click, and press Delete.

Now I’ll type in the data: For Projected expenses, I click the cell, and type the first number, which is 120.

When I click the next cell, the bars in the chart update to show the new value.

I have typed in the Projected expenses, and now, I’ll type in the Actual expenses.

We have typed in our data, so I’ll click X to close the data window.

And I’ll Zoom In a little to see the chart better.

The series headings, Actual and Projected, appear in the legend, and the bars reflect our data amounts.

The value increments were automatically calculated and show along the horizontal axis.

Up next: Customize a bar chart.

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