How to use Excel as a data visualization tool

Microsoft Excel has more dataviz capabilities than you may realize. Find out how to make your data stand out with charts, PivotTables, sparklines, slicers and more.

Everyone knows Microsoft Excel as a number cruncher, but there’s a whole lot more to the popular spreadsheet program. Just as Excel can perform basic data analysis functions, it has a surprising number of data visualization tools under the hood.

“Excel isn’t explicitly a data visualization tool, it’s a spreadsheet,” says Excel developer and consultant Jon Peltier. However, one of Excel’s strengths is its flexibility, he adds. “It’s kind of a Swiss Army knife of software. In addition to formulas, Excel has structures in the worksheet that give it additional functionality for preparing data for analysis in data visualization.”

Read on for a guide to using Excel’s dataviz tools to present your data. We use the Office 365 version of Excel for Windows in the descriptions below; some features may not be available if you use a different version.

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