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Plotting Professional Charts & Graphs in Microsoft Excel (Ultimate Guide)

Getting Started With Microsoft Excel

For those of you who are just getting started with Microsoft Excel, don’t worry – it’s not as intimidating as it looks! In fact, a few simple steps is all that’s needed to plot professional charts and graphs. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Open the document you’ll be plotting the chart or graph in. Make sure the columns on your sheet have titles, so they can be properly interpreted by Excel.
  • Highlight the data that you want to display. This means selecting the range of cells that contain your data, as well as any labels from your row/column headers.
  • Click on “Insert” at the top of your screen, and select the type of chart or graph you’d like to create (i.e., bar graph, line graph).
  • Once selected, customize your graph by editing the series options or labels in the Chart Editor pop-up window. You can also add titles or legends to further personalize your chart or graph.
  • Finally, click “Finish” and you’ll have a professional-looking chart ready for presentation!

Creating Basic Chart & Graph Types

There are several types of charts and graph you can generate in Microsoft Excel—each one having a specific purpose. Depending on what data you’re looking to display, there’s sure to be a chart or graph type that fits your needs. Here are the basic chart types available and when to use them:

  • Column Chart: This is one of the most popular types of graphs used to compare different categories of data over time. For example, it’s perfect for visualizing sales performance in a given month or quarter.
  • Line Graph: This type of chart is best used when you want to show a trend over time, such as the average temperature over the course of a year or profits over a period of months.
  • Pie Chart: Pie charts are great for displaying numerical proportions and percentages between different categories. For instance, they’re useful for seeing how your budget was allocated across employees last quarter.

Using the right type of chart or graph is key to making sure your message is clearly understood by readers. Microsoft Excel makes it easy to create any chart type; all you need to do is decide which one works best for your data!

Customizing Charts & Graphs

Microsoft Excel provides a wide range of options for customizing your charts and graphs, enabling you to create visually appealing visuals that communicate data effectively. From color palettes to axis modifications, there are plenty of ways to tailor your charts and graphs in to make them more informative.

Color Palettes

You can customize the color palette of your chart or graph by clicking on the “Colors” tab. You can also add additional colors by choosing one of Microsoft Excel’s preset color schemes or by creating your own color scheme.

Axis Modifications

You can modify the axis options for any chart or graph in Microsoft Excel. This includes modifying the labels, scaling ranges, gridlines and tick marks. You can also add trend lines or error bars if needed.

Labeling Data Points

You can add labels to data points in order to make it easier to understand what each data point is representing. To label data points, click on the “Data Labels” tab and choose from a variety of label formats such as name/value pair or category/value pair.

By taking advantage of these customization options, you can create professional-looking charts and graphs that communicate complex data effectively.

Incorporating Textual Elements Into Your Charts & Graphs

When you’re creating charts and graphs in Microsoft Excel, it’s important to incorporate textual elements like titles and labels. These will help to clarify the data visualized, providing context and helping to drive your point home.


An effective way to give clarity to your charts and graphs is to use a title that accurately summarizes both the data presented and the purpose of the graphic. A good title should be concise yet descriptive for maximum impact.


In addition to titles, labels can be used on each of the elements in your chart or graph that represent data points. This will provide more detail so readers can quickly grasp what they are looking at without having to take extra time analyzing it. Labels should also be succinct – try not to get too verbose or you’ll lose their attention.

With a few simple textual elements, you can turn a basic chart or graph into a powerful visual aid that will help tell your story in an effective way. Incorporating the right textual elements into your charts and graphs can make all the difference in communicating data clearly so readers know exactly what you’re trying to say.

Adding Data Labels, Legends, and Titles for Enhanced Visuals

Data labels, legends and titles are the finishing touches that make a chart or graph look professional. Data labels add extra information to the data points so you can get more meaning out of your chart or graph. Legends help readers to understand what different colors in the graph represent. Titles give readers an understanding of what the chart is about before even looking it at.

Here’s how to add them:

Adding Data Labels

Data labels can easily be added by clicking on a data point, right-clicking and then selecting ‘Add Data Label’. You can choose whether or not you would like to see the actual value, percentage or both when adding data labels.

Adding Legends

Legends provide an overview of what each color in the chart represents and are a useful way for viewers to understand your data quickly. To add a legend, click Insert > Legend > Top/Right/Bottom/Left (depending on where you’d like your legend placed). You can also customize the text size, color and font in this menu as well as rearrange your legend items/colors if needed.

Adding Titles

Adding titles helps readers get an understanding of what your chart is about without having to look at it too closely. To add a title, click ‘Chart Tools’ > Layout > Chart Title > Above Chart (or whichever position you’d like). Then simply type out your title and hit enter! You can also customize font size, text color and font type here as well.

Best Practices for Plotting Professional Charts & Graphs in Excel

Plotting professional charts and graphs in Excel can help you make data-driven decisions for your business. And the good news is that the process isn’t complicated – with just a few easy steps, you can plot charts and graphs that look great.


Here are some best practices for plotting professional charts and graphs in Excel:

  1. Choose the Appropriate Chart Type: Start by selecting the appropriate chart to represent your data. Options include a line graph, pie chart, scatter plot, bar chart, and more. Consider factors like what type of data you’re trying to display and how users will interact with it before choosing a chart type.
  2. Organize Your Data: Once you’ve selected a chart type, organize your data in a way that makes sense for it to be read—for example, arrange numerical data into ascending or descending order and label columns clearly.
  3. Make It Visually Appealing: To complete the professional look of your chart or graph, add some graphical elements such as colors or symbols to make it easier to discern different data points at a glance. You can also add titles or labels for additional clarity.
  4. Test It Out: After creating the chart or graph in Excel, take some time to test it out on different devices (including mobile) to make sure everything looks correct across all platforms and screen sizes.

By following these best practices when plotting professional charts and graphs in Excel, you’re sure to get an eye-catching product that’s easy for users to understand at any device or screen size!


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