Making a Microsoft Word Bar Graph

The tool bar at the top of your page should look something like:

 Click and hold wpe12.jpg (794 bytes)on the top tool bar. Drag the cursor to select then number of rows and columns you want on your table. In this example I have chosen 6 rows and 2 columns

If you can not see the gridlines then use your cursor to highlight the invisible table you made:

then go into the Table menu and select Gridlines.


The gridlines should be visible now. Enter your data.
Exercise Time (min) Pulse Rate (pulses/min)
0 70
1 80
2 90
3 95
4 100

Highlight the portion of your data that you want to include in your pie chart and press on the tool bar at the top of the page.

Select Column on the ChartWizard screen that appears.

If you click on a category of graphs in the left-hand column, the various options for that type of graph are displayed on the right. To choose from the many options, just click on the graph of choice. It is likely that you should make a bar graph (i.e., Column) of the 1st sub-type.

Once you have chosen the type of graph, click on the Next > button in the bottom right of the dialogue box.

Checking the Data Series

As you can see, your graph is already made. If you entered the data as instructed, your graph should look pretty good and should require only a few changes.

  • If your graph has the general qualities preferred, move on to the next step by clicking on the Next > button.
  • If your graph does not look correct,
    The second step of creating a chart allows you to check the assumed location of the data series you entered into your spreadsheet. If you entered your data as described above, the location of the data series should be designated under "Series in:" with a dot next to "Columns". If your graph does not look quite right, the problem may be that Excel doesn't quite understand how your data was entered in the spreadsheet. Try changing the "Series in:" designation to "Rows".

Labeling the Axes

The third step in creating a graph primarily consists of labeling the axes.

  1. Do NOT give the graph a title (i.e., Chart title). When using APA style, graph titles are a no-no.
  2. Label the x-axis (in Excel: Category). This label should represent the concept which is being manipulated by the independent variable.
  3. Label the y-axis (in Excel: Value). This label represents the dependent variable. It is typically the mean of the measurement.

In the figure below, notice the areas in which you enter the labels.

Also, notice the tabs displayed just below the title of the dialogue box. They include Title, Axes, Gridlines, Legend, Data Labels and Data Table. Clicking on one of these tabs allows you to change other qualities of your graph.

Removing the Gridlines: Let's get rid of the gridlines. Click on the Gridlines tab and checkout the display. Click on the check mark next to the Y (Value) axis Major gridlines designation.

Removing the Legend: For most of your graphs you will only have one independent variable. Thus, a legend is unnecessary. Let's get rid of the legend. Click on the Legend tab. Click on the check mark next to Show legend.

Once you are finished making your changes, click on the Next > button.

Placing the Graph on its Own Page

The 4th and final step in creating the graph consists of determining where the graph will be placed in your excel file. This is a very important step. As you can see in the Chart Location dialogue box, the program automatically puts the graph on the same sheet as your data points (i.e., As object in: Sheet1). You do NOT want to place your graph on the sheet with your data. Click on the alternative option labeled "As new sheet: Chart1". This option will put your graph on its own sheet of paper.

You can finally click on the Finish button.

Making Changes to Your Graph


Your graph is looking good but I would recommend that you make a few more changes. Changes to the graph are easy to make. The general rule is double click on any part of the graph you would like to change.

Background Color: The gray background of the graph will not allow the data points (i.e., the bars) to stand out. For a more appealing graph, let's change the background color from gray to white so that the bars representing the data stand out.

  • Double click on the gray background.
  • On the right-hand side of the "Format Plot Area" dialogue box, click on the circle next to None under "Area".
  • Click on OK

Color of Bar: On most of the computers on campus you can not print in color. Therefore, the colors are going to print as grays. For a more appealing graph, let's change the color of the bars from light blue to black so that the bars really stand out.

  • Quickly Double click on any one of the blue data bars.
  • In the "Format Data Series" dialogue box, click on the black square under "Area".
  • Before Clicking on OK, notice all of the tabs of which you can use to change the data presentation.

Changing the X axis: Notice that the labels on the x and y axes are terribly small. Let's make them easier to read.

  • Double click on the line representing the x-axis.
  • In the "Format Axis" dialogue box, first click on the Font tab
  • Change the font size to 12 point or larger.
  • Click on OK.

Changing the Y axis:

  • Double click on the line representing the y-axis.
  • In the "Format Axis" dialogue box, first click on the Font tab
  • Change the font size to 12 point or larger.
  • Also change the Scale.
    • Change the maximum to the maximum score that one could make on the dependent variable.
    • Also change the increments (i.e., Major unit) so that the display is soothing to the eye. Typically, this means not too many or too few numerals from the minimum to the maximum.
  • Click on OK.

Printing Your Graph

To print your graph and/or to save your graph,

  • Click on the File option of the main menu.
  • Click on either the Save as... option or the Print option

modified source:  Graphing Instructions