How to Make a Data Chart With Excel

by John Gugie

A data chart is a graphical representation of information, which is made from spreadsheets. Microsoft Excel has a data chart wizard feature that plots spreadsheet data on to any of a number of different styles of charts. This guide shows how to create a line graph style data chart using Microsoft Excel. The example shows the total number of calories eaten each day for five days.

Create a data table. Open a new spreadsheet and enter your data into columns with a title for each column. This article example has two columns, one for "Day" and one for "Calories." The data is Monday 2025, Tuesday 2000, Wednesday 2125, Thursday 2525, Friday 1950, Saturday 1790 and Sunday 2500.

Highlight all of the data cells that had entered in Step 1. Be sure to only highlight the data that is to be used on the data chart because the chart wizard uses the highlighted range of cells as the data for the chart.

Go up to the top menu and choose "Insert" and then "Chart" to open the "Chart Wizard" window.

Choose a chart type. Go to the "Standard Types" tab. Under "Chart Type" choose a type from the list of choices and choose a "Chart Sub-type" on the right-hand side. Click "Next." For this example, choose "Line" as the type and "Stacked Line With Markers Displayed at Each Data Value" as the sub-type.

Go to the "Data Range" tab and confirm that the range and series are correct. Go to the "Series" tab to confirm the data that is to be plotted. Click "Next." This example uses a series in columns to plot the calories.

Set the data chart attributes. "Titles" is where the axes are labeled on the chart. "Axes" defines what each axis' increments or tics are labeled. "Gridlines" offer optional gridline settings in the plot area. "Legend" is for an optional legend, which is a guide telling readers what each plotted line represents. "Data Labels" allows exact data values to be labeled next to each plotted data point, which can look messy. "Data Table" lets you add the data table to be included in the chart, which is not necessary if the chart is to be embedded into the spreadsheet. Click "Next."

Choose "Chart Location." This is where the finished chart is placed. The chart can be placed in a new spreadsheet, in which case the data table should be included in Step 6. The chart can be also placed in a preexisting spreadsheet, either the current one with the data table or another. Click "Finish." This example placed the chart into the spreadsheet with the data table.

Resize the data chart and move the parts of the chart around. This step is optional. It allows the chart to be customized to best fit the spreadsheet or other document in which it is to be placed.

About the Author

John Gugie has been a freelance writer for a decade. His work is diverse, from editorials and research papers to entertainment, humor and more. He holds a degree in finance from Moravian College of Pennsylvania. He writes for several sites including Associated Content, Helium and Examiner.