Building the Bar Chart
Now we’re ready to build the chart with multiple series. Select columns B through H. Choose the Insert tab and select Column from the Charts section, and click on the first bar chart option:
This is what we’re working with:
Now we need to make it pretty. Double-click on one of those slim bars to bring up the Format Data Series dialog box. Slide the Series Overlap bar all the way to the right towards Overlapped. Slide the Gap Width bar all the way left towards No Gap.
Looking better? Let’s see:
Now we have just a couple things to fix… The Percentage data on the y-axis is being shown as a decimal. Double-click on the y-axis to bring up the Format Axis dialog. Choose the Number sub-menu on the left and change the Category to Percentage, and set the Decimal Places to 0 (zero).
Finally, we can get a bit more readability by moving the Legend to the top of the chart and adding a thin outline to the bars… Select the chart and choose the Layout menu tab under Chart Tools and click the Legend button. Click on Show Legend on Top.
To add an outline to the bars, select the chart and choose the Design menu tab from the Chart Tools section. Click the drop-down under Chart Styles and choose the outlined bars icon.
That’s it! Now you have a beautiful chart that is readable in seconds without any explanation, and all this from a data set that was as boring as it was impenetrable!
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Andrew Roberts has been solving business problems with Microsoft Excel for over a decade. Excel Tactics is dedicated to helping you master it. You can read more of his writing on his personal blog at NapkinMath.io.
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Other posts in this series...
- Save a Broken Chart with Switch Columns/Rows in Chart Tools
- Build a Better, Cleaner, More Professional Line Chart
- How To Add an Average Value Line to a Bar Chart
- How to Add a Vertical Line to a Horizontal Bar Chart
- How to Add Totals to Stacked Charts for Readability
- How to Show Percentages in Stacked Bar and Column Charts
- Building Charts with Multiple Series and Custom X-Axis
- How to Create Waterfall Charts in Excel