Create a histogram

A histogram or Pareto (sorted histogram) is a column chart that shows frequency data. Here’s a typical example:

Sample histogram

To create a histogram in Excel, you provide two types of data — the data that you want to analyze, and the bin numbers that represent the intervals by which you want to measure the frequency.

Create a histogram chart

  1. Select your data.

    (Shown here is the data that was used to create the sample histogram shown above.)

    Data used to create the sample histogram above
  2. Click Insert > Insert Statistic Chart > Histogram.

    Histogram command reached from the Insert Statistic Chart button

    You can also create a histogram from the All Charts tab in Recommended Charts.


  • Use the Design and Format tabs to customize the look of your chart.

  • If you don't see these tabs, click anywhere in the histogram to add the Chart Tools to the ribbon.

Design and Format tabs for the Chart Tools

Configure histogram bins

  1. Right-click the horizontal axis of the chart, click Format Axis, and then click Axis Options.

    Format Axis command on shortcut menu
  2. Use the information in the following table to decide which options you want to set in the Format Axis task pane.



    By Category

    Choose this option when the categories (horizontal axis) are text-based instead of numerical. The histogram will group the same categories and sum the values in the value axis.

    Tip: To count the number of appearances for text strings, add a column and fill it with the value “1”, then plot the histogram and set the bins to By Category.


    This is the default setting for histograms. The bin width is calculated using Scott’s normal reference rule.

    Bin width

    Enter a positive decimal number for the number of data points in each range.

    Number of bins

    Enter the number of bins for the histogram (including the overflow and underflow bins).

    Overflow bin

    Select this check box to create a bin for all values above the value in the box to the right. To change the value, enter a different decimal number in the box.

    Underflow bin

    Select this check box to create a bin for all values below or equal to the value in the box to the right. To change the value, enter a different decimal number in the box.

    Format Axis task pane

Tip: To read more about the histogram chart and how it helps you visualize statistical data, see this blog post on the histogram, Pareto, and box and whisker chart by the Excel team. You may also be interested learning more about the other new chart types described in this blog post.

Formulas used to create histograms in Excel 2016

Automatic option (Scott’s normal reference rule)   

Formula for Automatic option

Scott’s normal reference rule tries to minimize the bias in variance of the histogram compared with the data set, while assuming normally distributed data.

Overflow bin option   

Formula for Overflow bin option

Underflow bin option   

Formula for Underflow bin option
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