Ways To Make Sense of Your Data Using Excel Charts

So, it’s happening – your business is up and running, and sales are really taking off. The problem is, with the many transactions that happen daily, it’s hard to keep track of the numbers.

Don’t sweat it, though; you have Microsoft Excel charts to do the job for you. There are important ways Excel is useful to your business. Ask anyone and they’ll tell you the program is a real life-saver for those who want to make sense of voluminous data. 

Here’s how you can do this with some of the charts the program offers:

1. Pie Chart

Pie charts are an excellent way to see what percentage a number constitutes the whole. If your figures add up to 100 percent, then this is the chart to use. 

For instance, if you want to have a good grasp of what proportion of the entire market is your business’ share of customers, use the pie chart. The chart even comes in different subtypes, such as 2-D and 3-D pie, doughnut, and pie and bar of pie. 

Of the list, the 2-D pie, 3-D pie, and the doughnut are usually chosen because of its aesthetics.  The pie of pie and the bar of pie are chosen if the values are too small since it’s difficult to see the relationship they have with the whole with a basic pie chart.

2. Line Chart

This chart is used if you want to see how a trend or various trends go in intervals of time. It is also useful if you want to plot something where the order of categories is important and when there are many data points. The chart, after all, comes with “markers,” which are essentially relevant data points in the line. 

How is this useful in business? If you want to see how sales are doing in one or two of your product lines, or how sales are doing in two of your product lines, then the line chart is the way to go. Depending on your preference, the chart comes in the following subtypes:

  •  Stacked line
  •  Line with markers
  •  Stacked line with markers
  • 100% stacked line
  •   3-D line
  • 100% stacked line with markers
  •  Stacked line with markers

3. Histogram

If you want to see the underlying frequency distribution of a set of continuous data, then this chart is the one for you. There are bins in histograms, which are essentially your data split into intervals. Also, if you want to check the frequency of which specific age groups buys your product, for example, then this is the chart to use. 

Histograms may look like they’re more complicated than line charts and pie charts but they’re actually fairly easy to make. You can check tips on how to make a histogram so you can be guided.

On excel, there are two types of histogram you can choose:

  •  Basic
  •  Pareto

The Pareto chart is named after Pareto’s law, which basically says that 80 percent of consequences come from 20 percent of causes. While the basic histogram merely shows a specific distribution of variables, the Pareto chart also ranks causes depending on their impact. If they’re ranked accordingly, you can easily institute corrective measures that can arrest the problem. 

For example, based on your Pareto chart, the number one cause of customer dissatisfaction is your unfriendly sales personnel. You can either retrain your personnel or fire them and hire other people to ensure customer satisfaction next time.

4. Scatter Chart

The scatter chart shows your typical scientific XY data. If you want to see if there’s a relationship between variable X and variable Y, then this is the chart to use. For example, you can use this chart if you want to see if there’s a relationship between the money you spend on advertising and actual sales. The scatter chart is very useful in regression analysis.

5. Radar Chart

The radar chart, also called the spider web chart, allows for a comparison of three or more variables in relation to a central point. With a radar chart, you can see which ones have similar values or which ones are outliers. In business, it’s particularly useful if you want to see how your personnel are doing performance-wise.

When using Excel charts, depending on your visual preference, you can choose among the following subtypes:

  • Basic radar
  • Radar with markers
  •  Filled radar


Running a business can be daunting, especially if you’re the kind who hates analyzing voluminous data. But, with the advent of technology, gone are the days where you had to spend hours making graphs with your rulers, pens, and papers. Microsoft Excel has given everyone the opportunity to create charts with just a click of the mouse. 

Just use this wonderful tool for analysis to your advantage, and the next time you encounter that voluminous data, you’ll even welcome it.

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.