A chart is a tool you can use in Excel to communicate data graphically. Charts allow your audience to see the meaning behind the numbers, and they make showing comparisons and trends much easier. In this lesson, you'll learn how to insert charts and modify them so they communicate information effectively.

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Charts

Excel workbooks can contain a lot of data, and this data can often be difficult to interpret. For example, where are the highest and lowest values? Are the numbers increasing or decreasing?

The answers to questions like these can become much clearer when data is represented as a chart. Excel has various types of charts, so you can choose one that most effectively represents your data.


Optional: You can download this example for extra practice.

Types of charts

Click the arrows in the slideshow below to view examples of some of the types of charts available in Excel.

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Excel has a variety of chart types, each with its own advantages. Click the arrows to see some of the different types of charts available in Excel.

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Column charts use vertical bars to represent data. They can work with many different types of data, but they're most frequently used for comparing information.

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Line charts are ideal for showing trends. The data points are connected with lines, making it easy to see whether values are increasing or decreasing over time.

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Pie charts make it easy to compare proportions. Each value is shown as a slice of the pie, so it's easy to see which values make up the percentage of a whole.

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Bar charts work just like column charts, but they use horizontal instead of vertical bars.

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Area charts are similar to line charts, except the areas under the lines are filled in.

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Surface charts allow you to display data across a 3D landscape. They work best with large data sets, allowing you to see a variety of information at the same time.

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Identifying the parts of a chart

Click the buttons in the interactive below to learn about the different parts of a chart.