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How to build a clustered column chart

In this video, we'll look at how to build a clustered column chart in Excel.

A clustered column chart groups multiple date series by category in vertical columns. Clustered column charts can be a good way to show trends in each category, when the number of data series and categories is limited.

In this worksheet, we have data that represents quarterly sales across 4 regions: East, West, North, and South. With data like this, we can easily build a clustered column chart that groups data by quarter or by region.

To start off, I'll place the cursor in any cell, click the column icon next to recommended charts, and select the first option, for clustered columns

The result is a column chart where all four quarters are grouped by Region.

Clustered column charts make it easy to spot trends. In this case, we can see that sales were flat in the East, increasing by quarter in both the West and North regions, and declining slightly in the South.

As with all column charts, the data series appears in the legend, which shows quarters in this chart.

I can verify the arrangement by selecting each series in turn, and watching as Excel highlights the data on the worksheet.

Note that the horizontal axis labels come from row 4.

The Select Data window will also confirm the legend and category axis labels.

To change the grouping to quarters, use the switch columns and rows button.

Now data series comes from regions, and columns are clustered by quarter.

This is also an interesting chart, but the original chart is a better view of regional performance, so I'll undo that change.

Now that we have the grouping we want, I can make several changes to clean up this chart.

First, I'll add a descriptive title.

Then I'll remove the space between the columns, and make the columns a bit thicker.

I'll also use the paintbrush icon to flatten the color scheme to a monochrome option.

Finally, I'll apply a simple custom number format to abbreviate data to thousands in the vertical axis.

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Dave Bruns

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