TL;DR: This article provides an introduction to creating charts and graphs in spreadsheets, including selecting the appropriate chart type, preparing your data, and customizing your visuals. By mastering these techniques, beginners can create stunning visuals that effectively communicate their data and insights, making their reports and presentations more engaging and informative.

Charts and graphs are powerful tools for visually representing data in an easy-to-understand format. They can help you identify trends, patterns, and relationships in your data, making it easier to communicate your findings and insights to others. In this article, we'll provide an introduction to creating charts and graphs in spreadsheets, covering the basics of selecting the right chart type, setting up your data, and customizing your visuals for maximum impact.

Choosing the Right Chart Type

The first step in creating a chart or graph is to determine the most appropriate type for your data. This will depend on the nature of your dataset and the specific insights you want to convey. Here are some common chart types and their typical use cases:

  1. Column and Bar Charts: Column and bar charts are used to compare values across categories or to show changes over time. Column charts display data using vertical bars, while bar charts use horizontal bars.

  2. Line and Area Charts: Line and area charts are ideal for showing trends over time or for displaying multiple data series. Line charts connect data points with lines, while area charts fill the space between the line and the horizontal axis.

  3. Pie and Doughnut Charts: Pie and doughnut charts are used to show the proportional relationships between parts of a whole. Pie charts display data as slices of a circle, while doughnut charts feature a hole in the center.

  4. Scatter and Bubble Charts: Scatter and bubble charts are useful for showing the relationship between two or more numerical variables. Scatter charts plot data points on a horizontal and vertical axis, while bubble charts add a third variable represented by the size of the bubbles.

Preparing Your Data

Before creating a chart or graph, it's important to ensure that your data is properly structured and formatted. Here are some tips for preparing your data for charting:

  1. Organize your data in rows and columns: Make sure that your data is organized in a clear and logical manner, with rows representing individual records and columns representing specific attributes or fields. This will make it easier to select the appropriate data for your chart.

  2. Include descriptive column headers: Use descriptive column headers to clearly label your data and make it easier to understand the information being presented in your chart.

  3. Avoid blank cells and rows: Remove any blank cells or rows from your dataset, as these can cause issues when creating charts and graphs.

Creating a Chart or Graph

Once your data is properly structured and formatted, you can create a chart or graph using the following steps:

  1. Select your data: Click and drag to select the range of cells that you want to include in your chart, including any relevant column headers or row labels.

  2. Insert the chart: Click the "Insert" menu or toolbar button and choose the desired chart type. Your chart will be added to your spreadsheet, displaying the selected data.

  3. Adjust the chart size and position: Click and drag the edges of your chart to resize it, or click and drag the entire chart to reposition it within your spreadsheet.

Customizing Your Chart or Graph

After creating your chart or graph, you can customize its appearance and settings to make it more visually appealing and informative. Here are some common customization options:

  1. Chart title and axis labels: Add a descriptive title to your chart, as well as labels for the horizontal and vertical axes, to provide context and make your chart easier to understand.

  2. Data series formatting: Customize the appearance of your data series by adjusting the colors, line styles, and marker shapes. You can also add data labels to display specific values or percentages directly on your chart.

  3. Legend and gridlines: Modify the appearance of your chart's legend and gridlines to enhance readability and clarity. You can change the position of the legend, adjust its font size, and modify the color and style of the gridlines.

  4. Chart and plot area formatting: Customize the appearance of your chart and plot area by adjusting the background color, border style, and other visual elements. This can help you create a consistent look and feel for your chart that matches the overall design of your spreadsheet or presentation.

  5. Axis scaling and intervals: Modify the scaling and intervals of your chart's axes to better represent your data and improve readability. You can set minimum and maximum values for your axes, as well as specify the intervals between tick marks and data labels.

  6. Trendlines and error bars: Add trendlines or error bars to your chart to provide additional insights and context. Trendlines can help you identify patterns and trends in your data, while error bars can be used to display the range of uncertainty or variability in your dataset.

Exporting and Sharing Your Chart or Graph

Once you have created and customized your chart or graph, you may want to export it as an image or incorporate it into a presentation, report, or other document. Here are some tips for exporting and sharing your chart:

  1. Copy and paste: You can copy your chart from your spreadsheet and paste it directly into another application, such as a word processor or presentation software. This will typically maintain the formatting and interactivity of your chart, allowing you to make further adjustments if necessary.

  2. Save as an image: To save your chart as an image, click the chart to select it, then click the "Save as Picture" or "Export" option in the toolbar or menu. You can choose from various image formats, such as PNG, JPEG, or GIF, depending on your needs.

  3. Embed in a web page or blog: Some spreadsheet software allows you to embed interactive charts and graphs directly into web pages or blog posts. This can be a great way to share your data visualizations with a wider audience and provide a more engaging user experience.


Creating stunning visuals with charts and graphs in spreadsheets is a powerful way to present your data and convey insights to your audience. By selecting the right chart type, properly preparing your data, and customizing your chart's appearance, you can create compelling data visualizations that effectively communicate your findings and enhance your reports and presentations.

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