How to Make Indifference Curves in Excel

By Chad Davis

Use Excel charts to graph consumer preferences using a variety of charts.
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Representing an indifference curve in a graph helps you visualize consumer indifference between different product bundles. You can create an indifference map to indicate what amount of goods or bundles of goods that the consumer must sacrifice in order to consume more goods. Plot the indifference curves by entering your data sets into columns in Microsoft Excel and creating a new Scatter chart. Adding a new series to the chart enables you to compare multiple consumer indifferences for specific products.

Open the spreadsheet containing your data in Excel -- or create a new blank spreadsheet.

Click inside the first cell and enter the smallest data amount for your first product bundle preference.

Click inside the next cell in the column and enter the second smallest data amount. Work your way down the column from smallest to largest until you have entered all of the data for the first product preference.

Click inside the first cell of the next column and enter the largest data amount first.

Click into the next cell in the column and enter the second largest data amount repeating the process from the first column but in reverse order -- largest to smallest.

Enter data for additional product preferences into separate column sets and repeat the process -- entering data from smallest to largest in the first column in the set, and then in reverse order for the next column in the set.

Click on the "Insert" ribbon tab, click the "Insert Scatter (X,Y) or Bubble Chart" button in the Charts group, and then click "Scatter with Smooth Lines." Excel automatically generates a scatter chart using the data from your spreadsheet -- you will need to manually re-select the correct data for your scatter chart.

Click on the "Select Data" button in the Data group of the Design ribbon. Click the "Remove" button for each series to remove them from your chart.

Click the "Add" button, and then enter a label for your first data set into the "Series Name" field of the Edit Series dialog box. Alternatively, you can click on a cell in your spreadsheet containing the label for your first data set.

Click into the "Series X Values" field and then click and drag to select all the data from the first column in the data set. Repeat the process with the "Series Y Values" field, selecting all of the data in the second column of the data set. If prompted, click the "OK" button and manually delete the "{1}+" text from the "Series Y Values" field. Click the "OK" button to save the series to your chart.

Click the "Add" button and repeat the process of selecting the data from your second data into the appropriate fields. Click the "OK" button once you have finished selecting the second data set.

Click the "OK" button to save changes to the series and close the "Select Data Source" window. Your scatter chart now represents the indifference curves for your consumer product preference.


You can automatically sort Excel data in a column based on size. Select all of the data in a column, click the "Sort & Filter" button in the Editing group of the Home ribbon, and then click "Sort Smallest to Largest" or "Sort Largest to Smallest."


Information in this article applies to Microsoft Excel 2013. It may vary slightly or significantly with different versions or products.