Present your data in a bar chart

Using Microsoft Office Excel 2007, you can create a bar chart and give it a brand-new, appealing look. Much like a column chart, a bar chart is useful for comparing data points in one or more data series.

Formatted clustered horizontal cylinder chart

After you create a bar chart, you can change the spacing between the bars. You can also use a bar chart type to simulate a Gantt chart, a horizontal bar chart that is often used in project management programs.

In this article

Learn more about plotting data in a bar chart

Create an elaborate bar chart

Change the spacing between the bars

Simulate a Gantt chart

Save a chart as a template

Learn more about plotting data in a bar chart

Bar charts illustrate comparisons among individual items.

In bar charts, categories are organized along the vertical axis and values along the horizontal axis.

Bar chart in 3-D

Consider using a bar chart when:

  • You have one or more data series that you want to plot.

  • Your data contains positive, negative, and zero (0) values.

  • You want to compare the data for numerous categories.

  • The axis labels are long.

  • The values that are shown are durations.

When you create a bar chart, you can choose one of the following bar chart subtypes:

  • Clustered bar and clustered bar in 3-D    Clustered bar charts compare 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.

    Clustered bar and clustered bar charts in 3-D

  • Stacked bar and stacked bar in 3-D    Stacked bar charts show 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.

    Stacked bar and stacked bar charts in 3-D

  • 100% stacked bar and 100% stacked bar in 3-D    This type of chart 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.

    100% stacked column and 100% column charts in 3-D

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

    Cylinder, cone, and pyramid bar charts

Top of Page

Create an elaborate bar chart

Formatted clustered horizontal cylinder chart

So, how did we create this bar chart? The following procedure will help you create a bar chart with similar results. For this chart, we used the example worksheet data. You can copy this data to your worksheet, or you can use your own data.

  1. Copy the example worksheet data into a blank worksheet, or open the worksheet that contains the data that you want to plot into a bar chart.

    How to copy the example worksheet data

    1. Create a blank workbook or worksheet.

    2. Select the example in the Help topic.

      Note   Do not select the row or column headers.

      Selecting an example from Help
      Selecting an example from Help
    3. Press CTRL+C.

    4. In the worksheet, select cell A1, and press CTRL+V.

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

A

B

CITY, STAT E

ANNUAL % AVG POSSIBLE SUNSHIN E

YUMA, AZ

90%

EL PASO, TX

84%

RENO, NV

79%

KEY WEST, FL

76%

HONOLULU, HI

71%

SAN FRANCISCO, CA

66%

NEW YORK, NY

58%

SEATTLE, WA

47%

JUNEAU, AK

30%

  1. Select the data that you want to plot in the bar chart.

  2. On the Insert tab, in the Charts group, click Bar.

    Excel Ribbon Image

  3. Under 2-D Bar, select Clustered Bar.

  4. Click the chart area of the chart.

    This displays the Chart Tools, adding the Design, Layout, and Format tabs.

  5. On the Design tab, in the Chart Styles group, click the chart style that you want to use.

    Excel Ribbon image

    Tip   For our bar chart, we used Style 4.

  6. In the chart, click the legend, and then press DELETE.

  7. To reduce the size of the chart title, right-click the title, and then select the size that you want in the Size box.

    Tip   For our bar chart, we used 12.

  8. To reduce the size of the axis labels, right-click the vertical (category) axis, and then select the size that you want in the Size box.

    Tip   For our bar chart, we used 8.

  9. Click the plot area of the chart, or select it from a list of chart elements (Layout tab, Current Selection group, Chart Elements box).

  10. On the Format tab, in the Shape Styles group, click the More button Button image, and then click the effect that you want to use.

    Tip   For our bar chart, we used the Subtle Effect - Accent 1.

    Shape Styles group on Excel Ribbon

  11. Click a data point to select all of the bars, or select the data series from a list of chart elements (Layout tab, Current Selection group, Chart Elements box).

  12. On the Format tab, in the Shape Styles group, click the More button Button image, and then click the effect that you want to use.

    Tip   For our bar chart, we used the Subtle Effect - Accent 2.

  13. On the Format tab, in the Shape Styles group, click Shape Effects.

  14. Click Glow, and then under Glow Variations, click the glow effect that you want.

    Tip   For our bar chart, we used the Accent color 2, 8 pt glow.

  15. Click the chart area of the chart.

  16. On the Format tab, in the Shape Styles group, click the More button Button image, and then click the effect that you want to use.

    Tip   For our bar chart, we used the Colored Outline - Accent 1.

  17. To change the size of the chart, on the Format tab, in the Size group, select the shape size that you want in the Shape Height box, and then press ENTER.

    Tip   For our bar chart, we used 4".

    Outlook Ribbon Image

  18. If you want to use theme colors that are different from the default theme that is applied to your workbook, do the following:

    1. On the Page Layout tab, in the Themes group, click Themes.

      Excel Ribbon Image

    2. Under Built-in, click the theme that you want to use.

      Tip   For our bar chart, we used the Solstice theme.

Top of Page

Change the spacing between the bars

You can enlarge or reduce the space between the bars in a bar chart. In a 2-D bar chart, the bars can even overlap each other.

  1. In a chart, click the data series that you want to change, or do the following to select the data series from a list of chart elements:

    1. Click the chart.

      This displays the Chart Tools, adding the Design, Layout, and Format tabs.

    2. On the Format tab, in the Current Selection group, click the arrow next to the Chart Elements box, and then click the data series.

      excel ribbon image

  2. Tip   You need to select only a single data series to change the spacing of all data series of the same chart type.

  3. On the Format tab, in the Current Selection group, click Format Selection.

  4. Under Series Options, do one of the following:

    1. To change the overlap of bars in a 2-D bar chart, drag the slider to the percentage of series overlap that you want, or enter a percentage between -100 and 100 in the Series Overlap box.

      Tip   The higher the value, the greater the overlap within the category.

    2. To change the spacing between categories of data markers in a 2-D or 3-D bar chart, drag the slider to the percentage of gap width that you want, or enter a value between 0 (zero) and 500 in the Gap Width box.

      Tip   The higher the value, the greater the spacing between the bars.

    3. To change the spacing between the data series in a 3-D bar chart, enter a value between 0 and 500 in the Gap Depth box.

      Tip   The higher the value, the greater the distance between the bars.

Top of Page

Simulate a Gantt chart

Even though Excel does not provide a Gantt chart type, you can simulate a Gantt chart by customizing the stacked bar chart type so that it depicts tasks, task duration, and hierarchy.

Example of a Gantt chart in Excel

The following procedure will help you create a Gantt chart with results that are similar to those shown in the preceding graphic. For this chart, we used the example worksheet data. You can copy this data to your worksheet, or you can use your own data, as long as you use the same column headers and worksheet structure.

  1. Copy the example worksheet data into a blank worksheet, or open the worksheet that contains the data that you want to plot into a Gantt chart.

    How to copy the example worksheet data

    1. Create a blank workbook or worksheet.

    2. Select the example in the Help topic.

      Note   Do not select the row or column headers.

      Selecting an example from Help
      Selecting an example from Help
    3. Press CTRL+C.

    4. In the worksheet, select cell A1, and press CTRL+V.

1

2

3

4

5

6

A

B

C

Task

Start

Duration

Task 1

0

2

Task 2

2

6

Task 3

8

9

Task 4

17

3

Task 5

20

5

Note   The values in columns B and C (Start and Duration) represent the number of days from the start date and the number of days required to complete the task.

  1. Select the data that you want to plot in the Gantt chart (A1:C6 in our example worksheet data).

  2. On the Insert tab, in the Charts group, click Bar.

  3. Under 2-D Bar, click Stacked Bar.

  4. In the chart, click the first data series, or select it from a list of chart elements (Format tab, Current Selection group, Chart Elements box).

  5. On the Format tab, in the Current Selection group, click Format Selection.

    excel ribbon image

  6. Click Fill, and then click No fill.

  7. Click Close.

  8. On the chart, click the legend, and then press DELETE.

  9. Select the vertical (value) axis, or select it from a list of chart elements (Format tab, Current Selection group, Chart Elements box).

  10. On the Format tab, in the Current Selection group, click Format Selection.

  11. Under Axis Options, select the Categories in reverse order check box.

Top of Page

Save a chart as a template

If you want to create another chart like the one that you just created, you can save the chart as a template that you can use as the basis for other similar charts.

  1. Click the chart that you want to save as a template.

  2. On the Design tab, in the Type group, click Save as Template.

    Excel Ribbon Image

  3. In the File name box, type a name for the template.

    Tip   Unless you specify a different folder, the template file (.crtx) will be saved in the Charts folder, and the template becomes available under Templates in both the Insert Chart dialog box (Insert tab, Charts group, Dialog Box Launcher Button image) and the Change Chart Type dialog box (Design tab, Type group, Change Chart Type).

    For more information about how to apply a chart template, see Reuse a favorite chart by using a chart template.

Note   A chart template contains chart formatting and stores the colors that are in use when you save the chart as a template. When you use a chart template to create a chart in another workbook, the new chart uses the colors of the chart template — not the colors of the document theme that is currently applied to the workbook. To use the document theme colors instead of the chart template colors, right-click the chart area, and then click Reset to Match Style on the shortcut menu.

Top of Page

Applies To: Excel 2007, Outlook 2007



Was this information helpful?

Yes No

How can we improve it?

255 characters remaining

To protect your privacy, please do not include contact information in your feedback. Review our privacy policy.

Thank you for your feedback!

Support resources

Change language