How to Make a Bar Graph in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

how to make a bar graph in excel

Creating a bar graph in Excel is pretty straightforward. First, you’ll need some data to work with. Then, you’ll input this data into Excel, select it, and use Excel’s built-in features to generate a bar graph. Finally, you’ll customize your graph to make it visually appealing and informative. Let’s dive into the step-by-step process to make a bar graph in Excel.

Step-by-Step Tutorial on How to Make a Bar Graph in Excel

So, you want to make a bar graph in Excel? Awesome! Follow these simple steps, and you’ll have a neat, professional-looking bar graph in no time.

Step 1: Open Excel and Enter Your Data

Open Excel and type in your data. Each category should be in one column, and the values should be in the adjacent column.

Open Excel and create a new worksheet. In the first column (A), enter your categories (like "Apples," "Oranges," etc.), and in the second column (B), enter the corresponding values (like sales numbers). Your data should look something like this:

  A        B
1 Apples   30
2 Oranges  45
3 Bananas  25

Step 2: Select Your Data

Click and drag to select all the cells containing your data, including the headers.

Click on the first cell (A1) and drag your mouse to the last cell in your data set (B3). Make sure you highlight both the category names and their corresponding values. This step is crucial because it tells Excel which data to include in your bar graph.

Step 3: Insert a Bar Graph

Go to the "Insert" tab in the Ribbon, then click on the "Bar Chart" icon and select the type of bar chart you want.

Navigate to the Ribbon at the top of the screen. Find the "Insert" tab and click on it. You’ll see various chart options. Click on the bar chart icon, and a dropdown menu will appear. Choose the type of bar chart you’d like to use, such as a clustered bar chart or a stacked bar chart.

Step 4: Customize Your Bar Graph

Once your bar graph appears, you can customize it by adding titles, changing colors, and adjusting axis labels.

After your bar graph pops up, it might look pretty basic. No worries! Click on the chart to activate the Chart Tools. Here, you can add a chart title by clicking on the "Chart Title" box and typing in your title. You can also change the colors by selecting different elements of the bar graph and choosing new colors from the formatting options.

Step 5: Save Your Work

Save your Excel file to keep your data and bar graph safe.

Don’t forget to save your work! Click on the "File" tab, then select "Save As." Choose a location on your computer, give your file a name, and click "Save." Now, you have a polished bar graph ready to present or analyze further.

After completing these steps, you’ll have a fully functional and customized bar graph in Excel that visually represents your data. It’s a handy tool for making your data easier to understand and share.

Tips for Making a Bar Graph in Excel

  • Keep It Simple: Avoid overloading your graph with too much information. Stick to the key data points.
  • Use Descriptive Titles: Make sure your chart and axis titles clearly describe the data being represented.
  • Select Appropriate Colors: Use contrasting colors for different bars to make them easily distinguishable.
  • Label Your Axes: Clearly label the X and Y axes to provide context for your data.
  • Check for Accuracy: Double-check your data and ensure that your graph accurately represents it.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I change the bar colors?

Click on a bar in your chart to select it, then go to the "Format" tab and choose a new color from the options available.

Can I add data labels to my bar graph?

Yes, you can! Right-click on one of the bars in your graph and select "Add Data Labels" from the context menu.

How can I update the data in my bar graph?

Simply update the data in the cells of your worksheet. The graph will automatically update to reflect the changes.

Can I create a horizontal bar graph in Excel?

Yes, when you select the bar chart type, choose the horizontal bar chart option from the dropdown menu.

How do I remove the gridlines from my bar graph?

Click on one of the gridlines to select them, then press the "Delete" key on your keyboard.


  1. Open Excel and enter your data.
  2. Select your data.
  3. Insert a bar graph.
  4. Customize your bar graph.
  5. Save your work.


Creating a bar graph in Excel is not only easy but also incredibly useful for visualizing data. By following the steps outlined above, you can transform raw numbers into a clear, informative graphic. Whether you’re a student preparing a project, a professional presenting at a meeting, or just someone looking to make sense of some numbers, a bar graph can help make your data more understandable and impactful.

Don’t underestimate the power of a well-made graph! It can turn a dull spreadsheet into a compelling story. If you’re eager to learn more, there are plenty of resources and tutorials available online to further hone your Excel skills. So go ahead, open up Excel, and start making your data come to life with a bar graph!

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