How to Create a Legend for a Spreadsheet

Legends are used in spreadsheets to provide further detail on colors and symbols used on charts and within your spreadsheet. Microsoft Excel provides you with a quick way to create legends during the chart creation process. You can also create separate legends to use with any spreadsheet data, not just data represented in charts. Legends take only minutes to create and will make your spreadsheet much easier to understand and use.

Businesswoman typing on computer
credit: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images

Video of the Day

Chart Legend

Step

Create a chart from existing data within a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. Note that legends aren't recommended for use with pie charts. Labels should be used instead.

Step

Go to "Insert" and select "Chart."

Step

Select your chart type. Press "Next."

Step

Select your data range. Either enter the range of cells manually or press the small button to the right of the range box. Highlight the cells you wish to include in your chart. Choose the "Series" tab to further customize your data range. Press "Next."

Step

Enter a title for your chart, X axis and Y axis.

Step

Select the "Legend" tab. Check "Show Legend" and choose where to place the legend.

Step

Press "Next" and choose where to place your chart. Press "Finish" to complete the process.

Spreadsheet Legend

Step

Select a range of cells to place in your chart. The range should be near your data, such as the top, bottom or sides of the data.

Step

Type the word "Legend" in the first cell of your range.

Step

Type each item you wish to include in your legend. This should be a description of each item, not the symbol or color.

Step

Highlight each item cell with the color used within your spreadsheet data if your legend is based upon colors. Select the cell and select the "Highlight" button on the "Formatting" toolbar. Use the drop-down arrow beside the "Highlight" button to choose different colors.

Step

Enter the appropriate symbol beside each item cell in your legend if you used symbols instead of colors. Symbols often include arrows, dollar symbols, pound signs or asterisks.

Show Comments