How to Make a Graph From CSV

By John Granby

Graphs or charts are an excellent way to represent data. They make it easy for you to visualize results of an experiment, visualize profit earnings, or determine which data points may not fit with your expectations. Microsoft's spreadsheet application, Excel, provides many types of graphs and charts, such as bar graph, scatter plots, and pie charts. Getting your data into Excel is easy, even if your data is not in Excel's native format, because Excel can import data from text files, such as Comma Separated Value (CSV) files as well.

Step 1

Launch Excel 2010, click "File" in the top menu and select "Open." Click on the file types drop-down menu at the bottom right of the File Open dialog box. You will need to select either "All files (*.*)" or "Text files (*.prn, *.txt, *.csv)" because by default, Excel filters your file choices to show only its native file types. Navigate to your file and click "Open."

Step 2

Find an empty spot in your spreadsheet and click a cell. The exact location is not important, as you are selecting a place to put your chart while you work on it.

Step 3

Click "Insert" in the top menu and select any one of the chart types you feel will best represent your data. For instance, click "Line" then select "2D line." A blank chart area appears in your spreadsheet.

Step 4

Right click in the blank chart area and click "Select data." When the "Select Data Source" window appears, use you mouse to click and drag over the cells that contain the data you want in the graph. When you release the mouse, you will see the chart automatically updated with your data.

Step 5

Modify the data as required for your purposes. You can modify the text around the X and Y axes by double-clicking on them and modifying the text in the dialog boxes.

Step 6

Save your file when your modifications are complete. If you wish to use this chart in a presentation, or include it in a document, you can copy it to that document: clicking on your chart and press "Ctrl" plus the letter "C" to copy it, then switch to the other document and press "Ctrl" plus the letter "V" to paste it into the document. You will need to make sure that the other application is capable of displaying the graph or chart, but Microsoft's other major applications, such as Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, can do this.

Tips & Warnings

  • Earlier versions of Excel can also easily import CSV data and also provide the same chart functionality. The same general process is used in these versions, which is: import the data, select your chart type, and select the data range.