How to Do a Comparative Chart in Excel

By Kathryn Hatashita-Lee

Microsoft Excel 2010 can create charts that compare different data series on one chart area. For example, “Column” or “Line” charts can contain two or more data series for comparison. You can also mix two chart types on one plot area to help your viewers distinguish different categories. For example, a column chart can show monthly profits over time, and a line chart can show projected profits on the same plot area.

Step 1

Open the Excel worksheet that contains the data for the chart.

Step 2

Click and drag to select the data values and categories.

Step 3

Click the “Insert” tab on the command ribbon.

Step 4

Click the arrow for a preferred chart type in the "Charts" group. For example, a “2-D Column” chart type can display two or more data series as different colors or shades. A gallery of chart sub-types appears.

Step 5

Click the preferred chart sample. The worksheet data converts to the selected chart type. The chart appears with the worksheet. Each data series displays a different color. The “Chart Tools” ribbon displays.

Step 6

Customize the chart with the “Chart Tools” command. For example, click the “Design” tab to display the “Chart Layouts” and “Chart Styles.” Click the “Chart Styles” to convert the colors of the data series.

Tips & Warnings

  • To help your viewers compare two data series, try displaying two data series as different chart types in one chart area. For example, “Column” and “Line” charts can illustrate progress over time. Create one chart type, such as "2 -D Column." Click on one data series in the plot area. Click the "Design" tab in the "Chart Tools" ribbon. Click the “Change Chart Type” button in the “Type" group. Click a different chart type. For example, “2-D Line.” Click “OK.” The chart area displays two different chart types for comparison.