How to Make a Bar Graph in Excel 2010

By Lawrence Adams

The spreadsheet software Excel 2010 is part of the Microsoft Office suite. You can use Excel software to organize data sets, create visual aids and perform complicated mathematical functions. The 2010 version of Excel differs from Microsoft Office 2003 and earlier versions in its basic design. Making a bar graph using Excel 2010 is a straightforward task, even if you are more familiar with the older layout. The software allows you to create a bar graph from a complex data set and modify its appearance to suit your needs.

Step 1

Open a new Excel 2010 spreadsheet. Identify two or more variables you want to include in your bar graph. For example, to graph the number of lung cancer cases occurring over the past 100 years, use the variables "Decade" and "Lung Cancer Cases."

Step 2

Place the independent variable on the x-axis of a bar graph. Type the variable name, such as "Decade," into cell A1. Type the second variable name in cell B1. This variable goes on the y-axis of your bar graph. Add additional variables to the spreadsheet if necessary.

Step 3

Type numerical data under each variable. Include as many cells as necessary to complete your entire data set.

Step 4

Click the "Insert" tab and select "Column" in the "Charts" section. Select the "2-D Column" chart. A blank box will appear in your Excel 2010 spreadsheet.

Step 5

Click "Select Data" in the "Design" tab of the "Chart Tools" area. Click the "Add" button to select the data for the y-axis of the bar graph. Type the variable name in the "Series Name" box. Select the range of data points in the "Series Values" box. Click "OK." Add additional variables to the y-axis if applicable.

Step 6

Click the "Edit" button in the "Horizontal (Category) Axis Labels" section. Click and drag your mouse to highlight the x-axis values from the spreadsheet. They will appear on the bottom of the bar graph.

Step 7

Click the "Layout" tab of the "Chart Tools" area. Use the options in this tab to change the axis names, grid lines, legend or chart title. Click the "Format" tab in the "Chart Tools" section to modify the color, shape and appearance of the bar graph.

Tips & Warnings

  • Excel 2010 may be able to automatically detect your data set and generate a bar graph. You can modify this graph to achieve the look you want.
  • Do not add too many variables to the bar graph. Although Excel 2010 can incorporate many variables into a graph, the result can be difficult to read. Separate complicated data sets into multiple bar graphs for best results.