How to make a graph in MS Excel

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How to make a graph in MS Excel
A column graph uses vertical bars to represent data. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Microsoft Excel 2010 is well known for its spreadsheet capabilities and contains numerous built-in formulas to help you calculate everything from simple math to complex statistical and engineering operations. Excel also creates charts and graphs, including a basic column graph.

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  1. 1

    Input the graph data. For the purposes of this example, type "Month" in cell A1, and type the months January through December in cells A2 through A13. In cell B1, type "Applications." For each month, increase the "Applications" number by 200. In cell B2, type "200," in cell B3 type "400" and so on. The last figure in the "Applications" column -- "2,400" -- is in cell B13.

  2. 2

    Place the cursor on a cell within the data table. If the cursor is not on an item in the table, the chart will not know where to access the data. Go to the "Insert" tab. Click on the down arrow under the "Column" option in the "Charts" panel.

  3. 3

    Select the first chart option under the "3-D Column" heading. A graph titled "Applications" will appear in your work area, showing 12 columns that represent the 12 numbers you entered in Step 1.

  4. 4

    Click on the border of the chart to drag it to the desired location. Change the size of the graph by grabbing one of its corners and dragging it.

Tips and warnings

  • To change the chart type of chart, right-click on the graph and select "Change Series Chart Type." Work with different types of charts and graphs to discover which works best in displaying the data. For instance, line charts might be more effective than pie charts to show drastic changes in data. You also can change the chart type by clicking on the graph to select it, then going to the "Design" tab and clicking on "Change Chart Type" on the "Type" panel.
  • Include the data table with the chart by clicking on the graph to select it, then going to the "Design" tab and choosing the "Layout 5" option on the "Chart Layouts" panel.

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