How to Create a Column Chart in Excel: Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Creating a column chart in Excel might sound tricky, but it’s actually quite simple once you understand the steps. In under a minute, you could transform rows of data into a visually appealing column chart. Whether you’re a student needing to visualize data for a project or a professional looking to present quarterly results, this guide will walk you through the process.

How to Create a Column Chart in Excel

By following these steps, you’ll create a column chart that clearly represents your data set. Let’s dive right in!

Step 1: Open your Excel file

The first step is to open the Excel file where your data is stored.

Once you’ve opened the file, ensure your data is organized in columns or rows. This organization is crucial for the next steps.

Step 2: Select your data

Next, highlight the data you want to include in the chart.

Click and drag your mouse over the cells containing the headers and the data points. Make sure to include any labels for clarity.

Step 3: Go to the "Insert" tab

Navigate to the "Insert" tab on the Excel ribbon.

The "Insert" tab contains various chart options. Look for the one that resembles a column chart.

Step 4: Click on "Column Chart"

Under the "Charts" group, click on the "Insert Column or Bar Chart" icon.

You’ll see different styles of column charts, such as clustered or stacked. Choose the one that best fits your data presentation needs.

Step 5: Select the chart type

Pick the type of column chart you want from the drop-down menu.

Hover over each option to see a preview of how your data will look. Once satisfied, click on your preferred style.

Step 6: Customize your chart

After selecting the chart type, your data will appear in a column chart format.

You can now customize your chart by adding titles, changing colors, or adjusting the axes to better represent your data.

Once you complete these steps, your column chart will be ready to present. The chart will give a clear visual representation of your data, making it easier to understand and analyze.

Tips for Creating a Column Chart in Excel

  • Choose the right type: Different column charts serve different purposes. A clustered column chart is great for comparison, while a stacked column chart shows part-to-whole relationships.
  • Use clear labels: Always label your axes and include a title for your chart. This clarity helps others understand your data quickly.
  • Color coding: Use different colors for different data series to make the chart more readable.
  • Adjust spacing: Make sure your columns are not too wide or too narrow for easy viewing.
  • Check for accuracy: Double-check that the data in your chart matches the original data to avoid any misrepresentations.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a column chart used for?

A column chart is used to display and compare data points in vertical bars, making it easy to compare values across different categories.

Can I change a column chart to a different chart type?

Yes, you can easily change the chart type by right-clicking on the chart and selecting “Change Chart Type.”

How do I add data labels to my column chart?

Click on the chart, go to the “Chart Elements” button (the plus icon), and check the “Data Labels” option.

How can I make my chart look more professional?

Use consistent and contrasting colors, add descriptive titles and labels, and ensure your data is accurate.

Can I update the chart if my data changes?

Absolutely! Excel automatically updates the chart when you change the data in the cells that the chart references.


  1. Open your Excel file.
  2. Select your data.
  3. Go to the "Insert" tab.
  4. Click on "Column Chart."
  5. Select the chart type.
  6. Customize your chart.


Creating a column chart in Excel is a straightforward process that can significantly enhance how you present your data. By organizing your data, following the steps outlined, and utilizing customization options, you’ll have a professional-looking chart ready in no time.

Charts are not just about aesthetics; they help convey your message more effectively. Visual representations make complex data easier to understand and analyze. Don’t just stop at creating a column chart—explore other Excel features to further your data presentation skills.

For more in-depth tutorials, consider exploring Excel’s other chart types and features. Happy charting!

Get Our Free Newsletter

How-to guides and tech deals

You may opt out at any time.
Read our Privacy Policy