Create a histogram in Excel

Create a histogram in Excel

A histogram or Pareto (sorted histogram) is a column chart that shows frequency data.

  1. Make sure you have loaded the Analysis ToolPak. For more information, see Load the Analysis ToolPak in Excel.

  2. On a worksheet, type the input data in one column, adding a label in the first cell if you want.

    Be sure to use quantitative numeric data, like item amounts or test scores. The Histogram tool won’t work with qualitative numeric data, like identification numbers entered as text.

  3. In the next column, type the bin numbers in ascending order, adding a label in the first cell if you want.

    It’s a good idea to use your own bin numbers because they may be more useful for your analysis. If you don't enter any bin numbers, the Histogram tool will create evenly distributed bin intervals by using the minimum and maximum values in the input range as start and end points.

  4. Click Data > Data Analysis.

    Data Analysis and Solver

  5. Click Histogram > OK.

    Data Analysis dialog box

  6. Under Input, do the following:

    1. In the Input Range box, enter the cell reference for the data range that has the input numbers.

    2. In the Bin Range box, enter the cell reference for the range that has the bin numbers.

      If you used column labels on the worksheet, you can include them in the cell references.

      Tip:  Instead of entering references manually, you can click Collapse button to temporarily collapse the dialog box to select the ranges on the worksheet. Clicking the button again expands the dialog box.

  7. If you included column labels in the cell references, check the Labels box.

  8. Under Output options, choose an output location.

    You can put the histogram on the same worksheet, a new worksheet in the current workbook, or in a new workbook.

  9. Check one or more of the following boxes:

    Pareto (sorted histogram) This shows the data in descending order of frequency.

    Cumulative Percentage     This shows cumulative percentages and adds a cumulative percentage line to the histogram chart.

    Chart Output     This shows an embedded histogram chart.

  10. Click OK.

    If you want customize your histogram, you can change text labels, and click anywhere in the histogram chart to use the Chart Elements, Chart Styles, and Chart Filter buttons on the right of the chart.

  1. Select your data.

    (This is a typical example of data for a histogram.)

    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.

Tips: 

  • 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

  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.

    Option

    Description

    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.

    Automatic

    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.

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

  1. Select your data.

    (This is a typical example of data for a histogram.)

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

    Chart button in the Illustrations group on the Insert tab in Word
  3. In the Insert Chart dialog box, under All Charts, click Histogram , and click OK.

Tips: 

  • Use the Design and Format tabs on the ribbon 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

  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.

    Option

    Description

    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.

    Automatic

    This is the default setting for histograms.

    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.

Note: You cannot create a histogram in Excel for Mac 2011 as the Analysis ToolPak is not available for that version.

Follow these steps to create a histogram in Excel 2016 for Mac:

  1. Make sure you have loaded the Analysis ToolPak. For more information, see Load the Analysis ToolPak in Excel.

  2. On a worksheet, type the input data in one column, adding a label in the first cell if you want. Be sure to use quantitative numeric data, like item amounts or test scores. The Histogram tool won’t work with qualitative numeric data, like identification numbers entered as text.

  3. In the next column, type the bin numbers in ascending order, adding a label in the first cell if you want. If you don't know what to type for your bin numbers, look at your data and see if you can recognize natural intervals. These intervals are also known as bins, and the Histogram tool will plot your data across these bins.

    It’s a good idea to use your own bin numbers because they may be more useful for your analysis. If you don't enter any bin numbers, the Histogram tool will create evenly distributed bin intervals by using the minimum and maximum values in the input range as start and end points.

    Here's an example of two columns you could use for a histogram:

    Example of two columns

  4. On the Data tab, click Data Analysis.

    Data Analysis button

  5. Click Histogram > OK.

  6. Under Input, do the following:

    1. Click inside the Input Range box, and then select the cells in the first column of data.

    2. Click inside the Bin Range box, and then select the cells in the second column of data.

      If you used column labels on the worksheet, you can include them in the cell references.

      Tip: You can also click Collapse button to temporarily collapse the dialog box to select the ranges on the worksheet. Clicking the button again expands the dialog box.

  7. If you included column labels in the cell references, check the Labels box.

  8. Under Output options, you specify the location of the histogram:

    • To put the histogram on the same sheet, click Output Range, and then click inside the Output Range box. Click in the sheet where you want your histogram to be placed.

    • To put the histogram in a new sheet, click New Worksheet Ply.

    • To put the histogram in a new workbook, click New Workbook.

  9. Check one or more of the following boxes:

    • Pareto (sorted histogram) This shows the data in descending order of frequency.

    • Cumulative Percentage     This shows cumulative percentages and adds a cumulative percentage line to the histogram chart.

    • Chart Output     This shows an embedded histogram chart.

  10. Click OK.

In Excel Online, you can view a histogram (a column chart that shows frequency data), but you can’t create it because it requires the Analysis ToolPak, an Excel add-in that isn’t supported in Excel Online.

If you have the Excel desktop application, you can use the Open in Excel button to open Excel on your desktop and create the histogram.

Open in Excel button

  1. Tap to select your data.

    Data used to create the sample histogram above
  2. If you're on a phone, tap the edit icon Edit icon to show the ribbon. and then tap Home.

  3. Tap Insert > Charts > Histogram.

    If necessary, you can customize the elements of the chart.

    Note: This feature is only available if you have an Office 365 subscription. If you are an Office 365 subscriber, make sure you have the latest version of Office.

    Try Office 365 or the latest version of Excel

  1. Tap to select your data.

    Data used to create the sample histogram above
  2. If you're on a phone, tap the edit icon Edit icon to show the ribbon, and then tap Home.

  3. Tap Insert > Charts > 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. You must organize the data in two columns on the worksheet. These columns must contain the following data:

  • Input data    This is the data that you want to analyze by using the Histogram tool.

  • Bin numbers    These numbers represent the intervals that you want the Histogram tool to use for measuring the input data in the data analysis.

When you use the Histogram tool, Excel counts the number of data points in each data bin. A data point is included in a particular bin if the number is greater than the lowest bound and equal to or less than the greatest bound for the data bin. If you omit the bin range, Excel creates a set of evenly distributed bins between the minimum and maximum values of the input data.

The output of the histogram analysis is displayed on a new worksheet (or in a new workbook) and shows a histogram table and a column chart that reflects the data in the histogram table.

Need more help?

You can always ask an expert in the Excel Tech Community, get support in the Answers community, or suggest a new feature or improvement on Excel User Voice.

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