How to Use Excel to Make a Percentage Bar Graph

By Jenny Hansen

Percentage bar graphs compare the percentage that each item contributes to an entire category. Rather than showing the data as clusters of individual bars, percentage bar graphs show a single bar with each measured item represented by a different color. Each bar on the category axis (often called the _x-axis_) represents 100 percent. Charts like this help you to analyze things like *how you are spending money each quarter* or *which salespeople contribute the most sales each month*.

Create a Percentage Bar Graph

Step 1

Select the data you wish to graph.

Step 2

Click the **Insert** tab and then the drop-down arrow next to **Bar** in the Charts group. Be sure to choose the _third_ option from either the _2-D Bar_ or _3-D Bar_ choices, which is **100% Stacked Bar**.

Step 3

Choose the preferred data for the Category Axis. Verify that your data is correct, then:* Select the chart.* Click the **Design** tab from **Chart Tools**, located to the right of the View tab.* Press the **Switch Row/Column** button in the Data group on the ribbon.

Modify a Percentage Bar Graph

Step 1

Selecting the correct data is especially critical for this type of chart. Including the total in your data selection will skew the results, so remove it if selected:* Select the **Total** data series.* Press **Delete**.The total category should disappear from both the bars and the graph's legend.

Step 2

Adding Data Labels to bar graphs is simple. Click **Design** under Chart Tools and then press the drop-down arrow next to **Add Chart Element**.You can also hover over your chart until three icons appear next to the right border of the graph. Choose **+** to add chart elements. Click the check box next to **Data Labels**.

Step 3

Double-click on data labels to open the **Format Data Labels** pane. Explore these options to change the position, alignment and other properties.

Tips & Warnings

  • Many people confuse *Bar Charts*, which are horizontal, with *Column Charts*, which are vertical. If you're creating a graph for someone else, it's a good idea to clarify this in advance.
  • The number of clicks matters when working with a chart in Excel.
  • * A single click selects an entire data series, axis or legend.
  • * Two single clicks select a single data point or item.
  • * Double-clicks on a chart element open a format pane specific to that element.