Bar and column charts are great ways to display data in spreadsheets. But they can often take up a lot of space on your worksheet. Data bars are an excellent workaround. These let you convert any dataset into a simple bar chart – right inside the existing cells! Let’s learn how to add data bars in Microsoft Excel.
How to Add Data Bars in Microsoft Excel
Consider a dataset containing six numbers. You want to easily visualize how these fit together on a relative basis, just like a bar or column chart would do. But you don’t want to actually insert a chart. This is a perfect time to use data bars in Microsoft Excel.
Data bars are a part of Excel’s suite of Conditional Formatting features. Fortunately, they’re very easy to add to any set of data.
To get started, click and drag to select your range of cells. In this example, the range is C1:C6. Once you have the values selected, go to the Home tab, found up on Excel’s ribbon. Then, click on the Conditional Formatting dropdown menu, which is just right of center.
You’ll see a variety of category options display. The option you want is Data Bars, which is third on the list. Hover over Data Bars, and you’ll see a collection of design styles appear. Primarily, the choice lies between Gradient and Solid fills, with a variety of color options.
Click on the thumbnail of your preferred style, and Excel will add data bars to the selected values. These help you instantly visually identify how your data fits together, and which values are large and small relative to the overall dataset.
As you can see, it’s easy to add data bars in Microsoft Excel, thanks to the robust Conditional Formatting features. It’s a great way to add context to any data values.