Go beyond the basic chart type

Lots and lots of you want to brush up on your Excel skills by going beyond creating basic charts. How do we know?  Because so many of you click this page. Today, we’re moving it back to the top of our home page to make it easier for you to find.

Excel comes with lots of chart types, including column, line, pie, and so on. However, many of you ask how to make other kinds of charts, such as floating column charts, Gantt charts, combination charts, organization charts, flow charts, hierarchy charts, histograms, or Pareto charts.

While none of the charts above are available as predefined chart types, don’t worry. There are ways to create them in Excel.

Floating column charts

A floating column chart is great for comparing the low and high levels in a value range, represented by the bottom and top of the floating columns, as you can see in this daily blood sugar level ranges chart.

For the chart below, I create a stacked column chart from two data series on the worksheet. The first data series measures to the lowest value of each daily blood sugar range and the second data series measures the actual blood sugar level range that I want to display in the chart. Then I hide the first data series to simulate a floating effect.

This floating column chart shows daily blood sugar level ranges

For more information, see Present your data in a column chart.


Gantt charts


I can use the same method to create a Gantt chart that displays the sequence of a few tasks I have scheduled. For this chart, I’ll use a stacked bar chart that has two data series. When I hide the first data series, the chart will show floating bars, which is perfect for a Gantt chart.

This Gantt chart uses floating bars to present the 5 tasks in sequence

For more information, see Present your data in a Gantt chart in Excel.

Combination charts

Combination (or combo) charts are also not available in the list of predefined chart types. When I want to emphasize different types of information in a chart, I can use two or more chart types in the same chart. I often combine a column chart with a line chart for an instant visual effect that might make the chart easier to understand. If the data of the different chart types varies a lot, I also use a second vertical axis (the one on the right in the chart below) for the second chart type. This really helps clarify the data that’s shown in a combo chart.

This combo chart shows recent home sales

For more information, see Present your data in a combination chart.

Organization charts

Organization, flow, and hierarchy charts are an entirely different animal. There’s no easy way to simulate these types of charts by using predefined chart types. Instead, I need to use SmartArt graphics to create them.

This example shows an organization chart

For more information, see Create an organization chart.

Histogram or Pareto charts

Histogram and Pareto charts are column charts that display frequency data, but they are not available as predefined chart types either. To create them, I’ve used the Histogram tool of the Analysis ToolPak, an Excel add-in program that comes with Excel.

This example shows a histogram

For more information, see Present your data in a histogram.

These are just a few examples that may inspire you to create that “other” chart type. I’d love to hear about any creative ways you have used to present your data in a chart type that simply isn’t available in the list of chart types.

More info on Excel charts:

Combining Chart Types, Adding a Second Axis

Create a chart from start to finish

Free training: Take the next steps in growing your Excel skills (Lesson 2)

Can’t find the Chart Wizard? No worries

Use sparklines to show data trends

Line or scatter chart?

Format column sparkline charts using the date axis and cell merging