Working with Charts

PowerPoint charts let you communicate data graphically. Use charts in PowerPoint to help see the meaning behind the numbers.

Inserting charts

PowerPoint uses an Excel worksheet as a placeholder for entering chart data. Therefore, when you insert or edit a chart in PowerPoint, an Excel window will automatically open. The process is user-friendly, but if you are totally unfamiliar with Excel, you might want to review our Cell Basics lesson from our Excel 2010 tutorial.

To insert a chart:

  1. Select the Insert tab.
  2. Click the Insert Chart command in the Illustrations Group. The Insert Chart dialog box will appear.
    Inserting a chartInserting a chart
  3. Select a category from the left pane of the dialog box, and review the charts that appear in the center. If you are unsure about which chart best fits your needs, review the interactive on the previous page.
    The Insert Chart dialog boxThe Insert Chart dialog box
  4. Select the desired chart.
  5. Click OK. An Excel window will open with a placeholder for your data.
    Excel opening automaticallyExcel window with the data placeholder

If a slide layout has a content placeholder, you can also click the Insert Chart command to insert a new chart.

Inserting a chart in the placeholderInserting a chart in the placeholder

To enter chart data:

The data that appears in the Excel spreadsheet is placeholder source data that you will replace with your own information. The Excel source data is used to create the PowerPoint chart.

The placeholder source data and the corresponding chartThe placeholder source data and the corresponding chart
  1. Enter your data into the Excel spreadsheet. If you are not sure how to enter data into an Excel spreadsheet, review our Cell Basics lesson from our Excel 2010 tutorial.
    Entering data into the spreadsheetEntering data into the spreadsheet
  2. If necessary, click and drag the lower-right corner of the blue line to increase or decrease the data range for rows and columns. Only the data enclosed by the blue lines will appear in the chart.
    Dragging the blue line to decrease the data rangeDragging the blue line to decrease the data range
  3. Close Excel. You do not need to save the spreadsheet. The PowerPoint chart will update to reflect the new source data.
    The completed chartThe completed chart

You can edit the chart data at any time by selecting your chart and clicking the Edit Data command in the Data group on the Chart Tools Design tab.

The Edit Data commandThe Edit Data command

Copying and pasting existing Excel data

If you already have an Excel worksheet with data you want to use for a PowerPoint chart, you can transfer the data by copying and pasting it. When the Excel window opens, open your existing worksheet, select and copy the data, and paste it into the worksheet in place of the placeholder data. Be sure to drag the blue line to surround all the data you want to include in the chart.