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How to make a bar graph in Excel – our step-by-step guide (with pictures)

Time to create some stunning visuals!
Last Updated on May 16, 2024
Microsoft Excel logo on a gradient purple background with a "PC guide" logo at the top, showing you how to make a bar graph.
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A bar graph is a two- or three-dimensional representation of data and is one of the most effective ways of displaying said information in an easy-to-read format. They can also help to highlight trends and patterns that might otherwise be overlooked.

You might think that making a bar graph in Excel is difficult, but it really isn’t. Thanks to a few handy tools, you can visualize your data with just a few simple clicks. You can also create more sophisticated graphs by using different colors and symbols to represent certain values.

Here, we’ll examine the straightforward process of making a basic bar graph in Excel, which should only take a couple of minutes to complete.

1

How to create a bar chart

Before you can generate any type of bar graph in Microsoft Excel, you will need to add data to a spreadsheet. Once you’re done, we can get to creating a bar graph. 

Step

1

Open the sheet

Find the spreadsheet containing the data you want to use to make a bar graph from.

Step

2

Highlight the cells

Highlight the cells that contain relevant data that you would like to display in your bar graph. Ensure that you include row and column Headers, Labels and Values, as these will become the bar graph labels.

An Excel spreadsheet showing a table with columns "Target," "Achieved," and "Remaining." The values are 150,000, 100,000, and 50,000, respectively. The cell D4 is highlighted. To visualize this data better, follow an Excel tutorial to create a bar graph for clear insights.
Data selected

Step

3

Create your bar chart

Now, go to the Insert tab and click on the Bar Chart icon.

Screenshot of an Excel worksheet showing a table with columns labeled "Target," "Achieved," and "Remaining." A red arrow points to the "Charts" icon in the ribbon under the "Insert" tab, guiding users on how to make a bar graph.
Bar chart icon

You might see quite a lot of available menu options after selecting this button. Simply go with the one that suits your needs. For this example, we went with a 2-D Bar Chart.

Bar chart showing progress toward a target of 150,000. "Target" is 150,000, "Achieved" is 100,000, and "Remaining" is 50,000. Spreadsheet data is displayed to the left of the bar graph. Learn how to create this in Excel for easy tracking and visualization.
Bar chart created

It’s important to note that the 2-D and 3-D bar charts are essentially the same, and only differ in their visual presentation.

Step

4

Customize your bar chart

If you want to make any changes to your bar chart, you need to simply double-click on it, after which several options will appear in the top menu.

Screen capture of the "Chart Design" tab in Microsoft Excel. It includes options like Change Colors, Chart Styles, and Data switch buttons, as well as Add Chart Element and Quick Layout to help you make a Bar Graph easily.
Bar chart customization options

Conclusion

That’s all there is to it! Creating bar graphs can be quite fun as long as you know exactly what you are doing. Hopefully, you now have a better idea of how to select your preferred chart type, create a bar graph, and edit it to showcase any relevant data.

If you want to learn how to create more graphs and charts in Excel, give these guides a read:

Andrew is one of three co-founders of BGFG, the parent company of PC Guide. A keen gamer and PC enthusiast, Andrew dabbles in a bit of writing sometimes - when he gets the chance to!