Creating a Chart

Excel charts let you illustrate your workbook data graphically to see trends. Also use charts in Excel to visualize comparisons.


By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Identify the parts of a chart
  • Identify different types of charts
  • Create an embedded chart
  • Create a chart sheet

Understanding the different chart types

Excel 2003 allows you to create many different kinds of charts.

Area chart

An area chart emphasizes the trend of each value over time. An area chart also shows the relationship of parts to a whole.

Area Chart

Column chart

A column chart uses vertical bars or columns to display values over different categories. They are excellent at showing variations in value over time.

Column Chart

Bar chart

A bar chart is similar to a column chart, except these use horizontal instead of vertical bars. Like the column chart, the bar chart shows variations in value over time.

Bar Chart

Line chart

A line chart shows trends and variations in data over time. A line chart displays a series of points that are connected over time.

Line Chart

Pie chart

A pie chart displays the contribution of each value to the total. Pie charts are an effective way to display information when you want to represent different parts of the whole, or the percentages of a total.

Pie Chart

Other charts

Other charts that can be created in Excel 2003 include Doughnut; Stock XY (scatter); Bubble; Radar; Surface; and Cone, Cylinder, and Pyramid charts.

Identifying the parts of a chart

Have you ever read something you didn't fully understand, but when you saw a chart or graph the concept became clear and understandable? Charts are a visual representation of data in a worksheet. Charts make it easy to see comparisons, patterns, and trends in the data.

Relationship Between Data Source and Chart

Source data

This is the range of cells that make up a chart. The chart is updated automatically whenever the information in these cells changes.


This represents the title of the chart.


This is the chart key, which identifies what each color on the chart represents.


These are the vertical and horizontal parts of a chart. The vertical axis is often referred to as the Y axis, while the horizontal axis is referred to as the X axis.

Data series

This is the actual charted values, which are usually rows or columns of the source data.

Value axis

This is the axis that represents the values or units of the source data.

Category axis

This is the axis identifying each data series.

Creating a chart using the Chart Toolbar

Charts can be created in a number of ways in Excel 2003. The quickest way to create and edit your charts is to use the Chart Toolbar.

To show the Chart Toolbar:

  • Choose View Toolbars Chart on the menu bar.

    View, Toolbars and Chart Menu Selections

Parts of the Chart Toolbar:

Chart Toolbar

Chart objects list box

This list box lets you select different parts of a chart for editing.

Format chart area

This is used to format the part of the chart that is currently selected.

Chart type

This is a drop-down menu that lets you select different types of charts. The chart type can be changed at any time.


This is used to show or hide the chart legend.

Data table

This is used to show or hide the actual source data that is used to create the chart.

By row

This plots the data series using the row labels (Y-axis).

By column

This plots the data series using the column labels (X-axis).

Angle text

This is used to rotate the angle of the X-axis and Y-axis labels.

Creating an embedded chart

Charts can be created in either of two ways in Excel 2003: embedded charts and chart sheets. Excel creates an embedded chart by default. An embedded chart is placed on the same worksheet as the source data that was used to create it.

To embed a chart in a worksheet:

  • Choose View Toolbars Chart on the menu bar.
  • Select the range of cells you want to chart. Your source data should include at least three categories or numbers.

    Cell Range Selected for Charting
  • Click the chart type drop-down menu on the chart toolbar, then select the chart you would like to use.

    Chart Drop-down Box
  • Open the chart options dialog box: Chart Options to add a title to your chart.

    Chart and Chart Options Menu Selections
  • Select the Titles tab, and type the title of the chart in the Chart Title text box.

    Chart Options Dialog Box

Different charts work best with different data. A pie chart, for example, can only display one data series at a time.

Excel 2003 includes a four-step Chart Wizard you can use to guide you through the steps for creating a chart. Highlight the cell range you want to chart, choose Insert Chart on the menu bar, and follow the instructions in the wizard.

Creating a chart sheet

Sometimes you may want to create a chart and place it on a separate sheet in the workbook. This is called a chart sheet. Chart sheets can make your charts stand out, particularly when working with complicated spreadsheets.

To move an embedded chart to a chart sheet:

  • Create an embedded chart.
  • Select the chart to be moved to a chart sheet.
  • Choose Chart Location from the menu bar.

    Chart and Location Menu Selections
  • In the Chart Location dialog box, select the As a new sheet button.

    (The As object in button adds the chart as an embedded object on the worksheet.)

    Chart Location Dialog Box
  • Click the OK button. The chart is displayed on a separate chart sheet in the workbook.

    Chart Sheet

You can also use the Chart Location dialog box to rename the chart sheet.


  • Open your Monthly Budget file.
  • Type your income for the month of March in D17.
  • Type your expenses for the month of March in the appropriate cells of column D.
    • The Total Expenses and Savings will be calculated for you because of the formula in each cell.
  • Create an embedded column chart using the expense data for the months of January and February.
    • Important: Do not include the data for rows 16 through 18, and do not include the data for the month of March.
  • Create a title for your chart and name it My Budget.An example:Challenge 15 Example
  • Save and close the document.