How to Make and Format a Column Chart in Excel 2010

01
of 06

Steps to Making a Column Chart in Excel 2010

bar chart
Excel 2010 Column Chart. (Ted French)

The steps to creating a basic column chart in Excel 2010 are:

  1. Highlight the data to be included in the chart - include row and column headings but not the title for the data table;
  2. Click on the Insert tab of the ribbon;
  3. In the Charts box of the ribbon, click on the Insert Column Chart icon to open the drop-down list of available chart types;
  4. Hover your mouse pointer over a chart type to read a description of the chart;
  5. Click on the desired chart;

A plain, unformatted chart - that displays only the selected series of data, a legend, and axes values - will be added to the current worksheet.

Version Differences in Excel

The steps in this tutorial use the formatting and layout options available in Excel 2010 and 2007. These differ from those found in early and later versions of the program. Use the following links for column chart tutorials for other versions of Excel.

A Note on Excel's Theme Colors

Excel, like all of Microsoft Office programs, uses themes to set the look of its documents.

The theme used for this tutorial is the default Office theme.

If you use another theme while following this tutorial, the colors listed in the tutorial steps may not be available in the theme you are using. If so, just choose colors to your liking as substitutes and carry on.

02
of 06

Creating a Basic Column Chart in Excel

excel column chart
(Ted French)

Entering and Selecting the Tutorial Data

Note: If you do not have data at hand to use with this tutorial, the steps in this tutorial make use of the data shown in the image above.

The first step in creating a chart is always entering the chart data - no matter what type of chart is being created.

The second step is highlighting the data to be used in creating the chart.

When selecting the data, the row and column headings are included in the selection, but the title at the top of the data table is not. The title must be added to the chart manually.

  1. Enter the data shown in the image above into the correct worksheet cells
  2. Once entered, highlight the range of cells from A2 to D5 - this is the range of data that will be represented by the column chart

Creating the Basic Column Chart

  1. Click on the Insert tab of the ribbon
  2. In the Charts box of the ribbon, click on the Insert Column Chart icon to open the drop-down list of available chart types
  3. Hover your mouse pointer over a chart type to read a description of the chart
  4. In the 3-D Clustered Column section of the list, click on Clustered Column - to add this basic chart to the worksheet
03
of 06

Excel Chart Parts and Removing Gridlines

excel column chart
Adding the Title and Removing Gridlines. (Ted French)

Clicking on the Wrong Part of the Chart

There are many different parts to a chart in Excel - such as the plot area that contains the column chart representing the selected data series, the legend, and the chart title.

All of these parts are considered separate objects by the program, and, as such, each can be formatted separately. You tell Excel which part of the chart you want to format by clicking on it with the mouse pointer.

In the following steps, if your results do not resemble those listed in the tutorial, it is quite likely that you did not have the right part of the chart selected when you added the formatting option.

The most commonly made mistake is clicking on the plot area in the center of the cart when the intention is to select the entire chart.

The easiest way to select the entire chart is to click in the top left or right corner away from the chart title.

If a mistake is made, it can be quickly corrected using Excel's undo feature to undo the mistake. Following that, click on the right part of the chart and try again.

Deleting Gridlines from the Plot Area

The basic line graph includes gridlines that run horizontally across the plot area to make it easier to read the values for specific points of data - especially in charts containing a great deal of data.

Since there are only three series of data in this chart, the data points are relatively easy to read, so the gridlines can be done away.

  1. In the chart, click once on the $60,000 gridline running through the middle of the graph to highlight all the gridlines - small blue circles should be seen at the end of each gridline
  2. Press the Delete key on the keyboard to remove the gridlines

At this point, your chart should resemble the example shown in the image above.

04
of 06

Changing the Chart Text

The Chart Tools Tabs in Excel 2010
The Chart Tools Tabs in Excel 2010. (Ted French)

The Chart Tools Tabs

When a chart is created in Excel 2007 or 2010, or whenever an existing chart is selected by clicking on it, three additional tabs are added to the ribbon as shown in the image above.

These Chart Tools tabs - Design, Layout, and Format - contain formatting and layout options specifically for charts, and they will be used in the following steps to add a title to the column chart and to change the chart colors.

Adding and Editing the Chart Title

In Excel 2007 and 2010, basic charts do not include chart titles. These must be added separately using the Chart Title option found on the Layout tab and then edited to display the desired title.

  1. Click once on the chart to select it, if necessary, to add the chart tools tabs to the ribbon
  2. Click on the Layout tab
  3. Click on the Chart Title option to open the drop down list of options
  4. Choose Above Chart from the list to place the default chart title box in the chart above the data columns
  5. Click once in the title box in order to edit the default title text
  6. Delete the default text and enter the chart title - The Cookie Shop 2013 Income Summary - into the title box
  7. Place the cursor between Shop and 2013 in the title and press the Enter key on the keyboard to separate the title onto two lines

Changing the Font Type

Changing the font type used by default for all the text in the chart will not only improve the appearance of the chart, but it will also make it easier to read the legend and axes names and values.

These changes will be made using options located in the font section of the Home tab of the ribbon.

Note: The size of a font is measured in points - often shortened to pt.
72 pt. text is equal to one inch - 2.5 cm - in size.

Changing the Chart Title Text

  1. Click once on the chart's title to select it
  2. Click on the Home tab of the ribbon
  3. In the font section of the ribbon, click on the Font box to open the drop down list of available fonts
  4. Scroll to find and click on the font Arial Black in the list to change the title to this font

Changing the Legend and Axes Text

  1. Repeat the above steps to change the text in the chart's legend and X and Y axes to Arial Black
05
of 06

Changing Colors in the Column Chart

excel column chart
Changing the Chart Text. (Ted French)

Changing the Color of the Floor and Side Wall

This steps in the tutorial involve changing the color of the chart's floor and side wall to black as seen in the image above.

  • The chart floor is the horizontal rectangle located beneath the data columns in the plot area.​
  • The side wall is on the left-hand side of the plot area between the data columns and the Y (vertical) axis labels.

Both objects will be selected using the chart elements drop down list located on the far left side of the Layout tab of the ribbon.

  1. Click on the chart background to select the entire chart if necessary
  2. Click on the Layout tab of the ribbon
  3. With the entire chart selected, the chart elements list should display the name Chart Area in the top left corner of the ribbon.
  4. Click on the down arrow next to chart elements option to open the drop-down list of chart parts
  5. Choose Floor from the list of chart parts to highlight the floor of the chart
  6. Click on the Format tab of the ribbon
  7. Click on the Shape Fill option to open the Fill Colors drop down panel
  8. Choose Black, Text 1 from the Theme Colors section of the panel to change the chart's floor color to black
  9. Repeat steps 2 to 6 above to change the color of the chart's Side Wall to black

If you have followed all steps in the tutorial, at this point, your chart should match the one seen in the image above.

06
of 06

Changing Column Colors and Moving the Chart

excel column chart
Moving a Chart to a Separate Sheet. (Ted French)

Changing the Color of the Chart's Data Columns

This step in the tutorial changes the appearance of the data columns by changing colors, adding a gradient, and adding an outline to each column.

The shape fill and shape outline options, located on the Format tab will be used to affect these changes. The results will match the columns seen in the image above.

Changing the Total Revenue Column Color

  1. Click once on one of the blue Total Revenue columns in the chart to select all three blue columns
  2. Click on the Format tab of the ribbon if necessary
  3. Click on the Shape Fill option to open the Fill Colors drop down panel
  4. Choose Dark Blue, Text 2, Lighter 60% from the Theme Colors section of the panel to change the columns' color to light blue

Adding the Gradient

  1. With the Total Revenue columns still selected, click on the Shape Fill option a second time to open the Fill Colors drop down menu
  2. Hover the mouse pointer over the Gradient option near the bottom of the list to open the Gradient panel
  3. In the Light Variations section of the panel, click on the Linear Right option to add a gradient that gets lighter from left to right across the column

Adding the Column Outline

  1. With the Total Revenue columns still selected, click on the Shape Outline option to open the Shape Outline drop-down menu
  2. In the Standard Colors section of the panel, choose Dark Blue to add a dark blue outline to each column
  3. Click on the Shape Outline option a second time
  4. Click on the Weight option in the menu to open a sub menu of options
  5. Choose 1 1/2 pt. to increase the thickness of the columns' outline

Formatting the Total Expenses Series

Repeat the steps used to format the Total Revenue columns, using the following formats:

  • Column Fill Color: Red Accent 2, Darker 50%
  • Gradient: Light Variations, Linear Right
  • Column Outline Color: Red Accent 2, Darker 50%
  • Column Outline Line Weight:  1 1/2 pt.

Formatting the Profit/Loss Series

Repeat the steps used to format the Total Revenue columns, using the following formats:

  • Column Fill Color: Olive Green Accent 3, Darker 25%
  • Gradient: Light Variations, Linear Right
  • Column Outline Color: Olive Green Accent 3, Darker 50%
  • Column Outline Line Weight:  1 1/2 pt.

At this point, if all formatting steps have been followed, the column chart should resemble the chart seen in the image above.

Moving the Chart to a Separate Sheet

The last step in the tutorial moves the chart to a separate sheet in the workbook using the Move Chart dialog box.

Moving a chart to a separate sheet makes it easier to print the chart and it can also relieve congestion in a large worksheet full of data.

  1. Click on the chart's background to select the entire chart
  2. Click on the Design tab of the ribbon
  3. Click on the Move Chart icon on the far right side of the ribbon to open the Move Chart dialog box
  4. As shown in the image above, click on the New sheet option in the dialog box and - optionally - give the sheet a name, such as Cookie Shop 2013 Income Summary
  5. Click OK to close the dialog box - the chart should be located on a separate sheet with the new name visible on the sheet tab at the bottom of the screen.
Format
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
French, Ted. "How to Make and Format a Column Chart in Excel 2010." ThoughtCo, May. 7, 2017, thoughtco.com/format-a-column-chart-in-excel-3123332. French, Ted. (2017, May 7). How to Make and Format a Column Chart in Excel 2010. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/format-a-column-chart-in-excel-3123332 French, Ted. "How to Make and Format a Column Chart in Excel 2010." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/format-a-column-chart-in-excel-3123332 (accessed January 19, 2018).