How to Select Data for Graphs in Excel

alsoaaaThis guide will explain several ways to select data for graphs in Excel.

Excel graphs are an essential feature for many users because of the amount of visualization options available. 

Let’s take a look at a quick use case where we must select specific data for graphs.

Suppose you have financial data for the previous four quarters. 

You want to create two different visualizations. The first visualization would be a bar graph comparison between the current quarter and the previous quarter. 

Since we do not need data from any quarter prior to the previous one, we will have to find a way to exclude the data from our spreadsheet.

Depending on how your table is set up, you may exclude unneeded data as soon as you insert the graph into your spreadsheet. In other cases, you may need to use Excel’s Select Data Source feature to specify which fields to visualize on your graph.

Now that we know why we might need to know different ways to select data for Excel graphs, let’s see how this works on an actual spreadsheet.



A Real Example of Selecting Data for Graphs in Excel

The following section will go into detail about the formulas and tools used to select data for graphs in Excel.

First, let’s take a look at a real example of the function being used in an Excel spreadsheet.

In the spreadsheet seen below, we have a dataset with three columns. However, we’ve selected only columns B and C for our graph.

select data for graphs in Excel


We can use the Select Data Source dialog to select further which data to include in our graph. For example, we can even remove specific months from our final chart.

use Select Data Source dialog


Do you want to take a closer look at our examples? You can make your own copy of the spreadsheet above using the link attached below. 

If you’re ready to try out selecting data for graphs in Excel, head over to the next section to read our tutorial on how to do it!



How to Select Data for Graphs in Excel

This section will guide you through each step needed to start selecting data for your Excel charts. You’ll learn three quick methods that you can use to select your source dataset.

Follow these steps to start selecting data for your graphs in Excel:

  1. We can use the automatic Select All feature to select your graph data. This is best used for cases where you want your graph to have access to all columns in your dataset. First, select any cell in your table. In this example, we’ve chosen the top-left cell B2.
    select a cell in your table
  2. Navigate to the Insert tab and select a specific chart type in the Charts section. Even if the entire table is not selected, Excel will use the entire table that the selected cell is part of automatically. In this example, we’ll insert a 2D line graph based on our dataset.
    Insert chart
  3. After selecting our chart type, Excel will use the entire table automatically.
    select data for graphs in Excel automatically
  4. The user may not want to use the entire dataset when inserting a graph. The user may drag their mouse to retrieve the range needed. Selecting the top-left cell and holding the Shift key, and clicking on the bottom-right cell will also work.
    use cursor and drag selection for graph data
  5. If the cell range is continuous, you will see Excel’s Recommended Charts icon on the selection’s lower-right corner. Hover over this icon to see a list of recommended chart types for the given data. In this example, we’ll select the line chart again.
    add recommended chart
  6. Alternatively, you may use the chart options in the Insert tab to create a graph from the selected data.
    select data for graphs in Excel
  7. The third method requires the user to start with a blank chart and use the Chart Design tab to select source data. You can use the keyboard shortcut Alt + F1 to insert a blank graph into your spreadsheet.
    insert blank graph
  8. Select the blank graph and navigate to the Chart Design tab. Click on the Select Data option.
    select data for graphs in Excel
  9. In the Select Data Source dialog box, select the Chart data range text box and type in your range. You may also use your cursor to select the range much faster. Click on the OK button to apply the new data source to your graph.
    use Select Data dialog
  10.  Your graph should now have a connection to your dataset. You may use the Chart Options panel to modify the type of chart you want to display your data with.
    select data for graphs in Excel

These are three easy methods you can use to select data for graphs in Excel.



This step-by-step guide is a quick introduction to selecting data for graphs in Microsoft Excel. Overall, Excel makes it easy for users to generate useful graphs from their data quickly.

Excel charts are just a few of the many Excel features that you can use in your spreadsheets. Our website also offers hundreds of other functions and methods to help you get more out of Microsoft Excel.

With so many other Excel functions available, you can find one that is appropriate for your use case.

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