How to Make a Graph on Your Computer Without Excel

by Kevin Lee

If Microsoft Excel isn't installed on your computer or you don't want to use it to create a data graph, you can turn WordPad and Microsoft Paint into alternative graphing tools. Use WordPad to create a grid and add vertical axis values to it; then, use Paint to complete the job by drawing a horizontal axis and filling the grid with lines that represent data points. It may take longer to make a graph this way, but you might enjoy the creative experience.

Create Horizontal Grid Lines

1

Determine the values you want on the graph’s vertical axis. For instance, if you need to plot sales by month, your graph’s vertical axis might consist of a series of numbers from 0 to 1000. Those values could represent the number of units you sold each month.

2

Type the highest number in the series. If that number is 1000, type that number and press the "Spacebar" key to add a space after the number. Press and hold the “_” key to draw a horizontal line that extends to the right of the number. This line becomes the graph’s top grid line.

3

Press “Enter” to move your cursor to a new line and then type the next highest number in the series. If you typed 1000 in the last step, you might type 900 on the new line. Because you’re starting at the top of the graph and working down, count the numbers that represent your vertical axis in reverse. Ensure that the lowest number in the series is 0 if you want that number to represent the graph's original point.

4

Press “Enter,” hold down the “_” key and draw a line that extends to the right of that number. Repeat this process until you draw a line for each number you want to appear on the graph’s vertical axis.

Create Vertical Grid Lines

1

Press the “Windows” key, type “Snipping Tool” and click the “Snipping Tool” icon when you see it to launch the tool. Click “New” and draw a rectangle around your grid. Press “Ctrl-C” to copy it to the clipboard.

2

Launch Paint and press “Ctrl-V” to paste the grid you copied onto the drawing canvas. At this point, the graph has horizontal grid lines, a vertical axis and the values you added to the vertical axis.

3

Click “Select” and put a check mark in the “Transparent Selection” check box if it isn't already checked. Use your mouse to draw a rectangle around the grid. Do not include values that reside on the vertical axis -- you only want to select the grid lines.

4

Press “Ctrl-C” to copy your selection and then press “Ctrl-V.” Paint pastes a copy of the grid onto the canvas. Click that grid, click “Rotate” and select “Rotate Right 90” to rotate the grid 90 degrees.

5

Click and drag the grid you rotated onto the original grid so that the two grids merge. When you’re done, you will have a single graph that looks like a sheet of graph paper. This graph will contain horizontal grid lines, vertical grid lines and a vertical axis that displays the values you typed in WordPad.

Add Horizontal Axis Values and Lines

1

Click the "Text" icon and then click the grid’s origin in the lower left corner. Type the values you want to use as the grid’s horizontal axis values. For example, type abbreviations for the months if you want those to be the horizontal grid’s values.

2

Adjust the spacing between the values you typed so that each value sits below one of the grid’s vertical lines. Adjust that spacing by placing your cursor to the right of a value and pressing “Enter” to move the adjacent value to the right. This is similar to adding spaces between words in a Notepad document.

3

Click the Line tool icon in the “Shapes” section to select it. Click the grid’s origin point, hold down your left mouse button and drag your mouse to draw the graph’s first line. For example, if you were creating a sales grid with February sales of 300, draw a line from the origin up to the point where the "300" value on the vertical axis intersects with the "February" value on the horizontal axis. Drawing lines on this grid is no different than drawing them using a pencil and paper.

4

Click the Line tool icon again, click the ending point of the line you drew, and draw another line that represents your second data point. Repeat this process until you draw enough lines to represent all your data points.

Tips

  • Change a line’s width by clicking the Line tool icon, clicking “Size” and selecting one of the line widths you see.
  • If you want to plot two lines, you can make the second line a different color by clicking one of the colors in the Colors section after you click the Line tool icon.

About the Author

After majoring in physics, Kevin Lee began writing professionally in 1989 when, as a software developer, he also created technical articles for the Johnson Space Center. Today this urban Texas cowboy continues to crank out high-quality software as well as non-technical articles covering a multitude of diverse topics ranging from gaming to current affairs.

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