Using Popular PowerPoint Graphs and Charts

PowerPoint is an amazing audiovisual tool that can help you convey more clearly all your presentation’s information. And among the many options PowerPoint offers are graphs and charts. Graphs are an excellent way to showcase data in a visually engaging way and illustrate your points. Learn how to use the most common PowerPoint graphs and how to take full advantage of them!

PowerPoint graphs and charts

How to Insert PowerPoint Graphs and Charts

Luckily for all those who want to add a graph or chart to their presentation, PowerPoint offers a wide array of these! You can insert them directly into your presentation by selecting the one you want and adding in your data. PowerPoint will automatically draw your graph or chart! Afterward, you can edit it, change colors and design style, add variables, and so on. It’s an outstanding tool to make the most of PowerPoint as a visual aid and to convey all your data visually.

To pick your PowerPoint graphs or chart, go to the Insert tab and select Chart in the Illustrations section. The Chart Window will show you all the bar and graphs options PowerPoint offers. And after you have picked a model, the Chart Design tab will help you edit it and fit it to your tastes.

PowerPoint also offers quick and easy ways to customize your charts and graphs. While each chart is different and has its unique elements, here are some of the most common tools you can use to customize your PowerPoint charts and graphs.

PowerPoint charts and graphs

Add Chart Element

The Chart Element section is common to all types of PowerPoint charts and graphs. Here you’ll be able to customize the more “practical” issues concerning your graphs. For example, is you want to add a title or a legend. These elements will help you make the data you are presenting more clear and straight forward to your audience.

For example, if you think it is important your audience knows the exact value of each segment in a column chart, you can choose to add labels to them. Or gridlines to make sure different sections are easily distinguished from each other.

Make sure to evaluate what elements will bring value to your PowerPoiny graph or chart. If it’s not necessarily, it might just make it look cramped, and become a hindrance rather than an aid for understanding it!

The Quick Layout section offers some pre-made designs in case you don’t want to customize it element by element.

Chart Styles

This section is all about style and design. For each type of chart and graphs, PowerPoint will offer you different options of how it can look like. You’ll find design options and you’ll be able to change colors to make it fit your overall presentation design.

Data Section

The most important part of any graph or chart is the data! In this section, you’ll be able to edit and add the data that will shape your PowerPoint graphs and charts. You can also edit and add other categories and segments for each type of graph. If you only need to change the values within each category, Edit Data is your best option. Your chart excel sheet will open automatically, and you’ll be able to update the values straight away.

Most Common PowerPoin Graphs and Charts

PowerPoint offers several different types of charts and graphs. If you’re uncertain about which one to choose, or which one would fit better your data better, don’t worry! Here you’ll find a quick overview of the most Popular PowerPoint graphs and charts and how to use them.

data driven PowerPoint templates

PowerPoint Column and Bar Charts

Column and Bar charts are very similar, and in many cases, whichever you choose depends mostly on your personal tastes. Both are amazing options for visually representing quantifiable data from different segments in two axes. In one axis, you’ll be able to show each category or segment. And the other one will show the numbers you’re working with. This way, anyone will be able to quickly compare at one glance the quantity difference between categories! For example, you can use a PowerPoint Colum or Bar Chart to showcase how much has each salesman billed or to display your’s business’ profits month by month.

In the case of column charts, the information is organized vertically. For bar charts, on the other hand, the information is displayed horizontally. So which chart should you pick for your PowerPoint presentation? There are some easy guidelines you can follow in order to make sure your chart looks as polished as possible.

column charts PowerPoint free templates

Column or Bar Chart?

  • In a Column Chart, your vertical axis will showcase the quantity. This means that the horizontal one has limited space for your segment labels, which can make it look cramped and unpolished. In this case, a Bar Chart might be a better option!
  • Bar charts are also better for displaying a big number of categories or data sets. When trying to fit over 10 segments in a column chart, it will probably look confusing for the audience. Bar charts are great for optimizing your space.
  • If the data you’re using includes negative values, then a Column chart is the way to go! Our brains associate easier negative values in a downward direction. That’s why a PowerPoint Column chart that’s organized vertically would be better for them!
PowerPoint bar chart

Just like every other PowerPoint Graphs and Charts, Column and Bar charts are pretty easy to use. They both include 3 different design options: clustered, stacked, and 3D. You just need to pick one and add your data to the Excel spreadsheet that will automatically appear.

PowerPoint Line Graphs

If you have quantifiable data to showcase in a two-axis chart, but you also want to display the patterns and how the numbers change over time, then a Line Graph is probably the best option for you. This type of graph works very similarly to bar charts. Just like in these, the information is organized in 2 axes. But instead of drawing bars, the data of each category is marked in data points or markers. These points are connected between them -hence its name!

line chart business PowerPoint template

All this makes them the ideal PowerPoint Graph to showcase growth. A line Graph will be able to showcase the evolution of your business in a very effective visual way. It can show ups and downs, growth trends, and so on.

The best thing about this type of PowerPoint Graph is that you can add different lines in the same chart. This way, you can compare not only the data of different segments or categories, but also their growth and how they’ve evolved over time.

financial PowerPoint template

When to use a line graph instead of a column chart? As it has been said, line graphs showcase data progression. This means that the labels on the horizontal axis must be in chronological order. In a column chart, you can compare categories that are not necessarily chronologically related. But in a line graph, in order to show data evolution, time plays the main role.

PowerPoint Pie Charts

If you want to convey visually different parts of a whole, then a pie chart is a great option! Pie charts (also called circle graphs) use angles to convey exact percentages as parts of a whole. This makes the circle look like a “pie” cut in several pieces: that’s where its name comes from!

PowerPoint pie chart template

Pie charts are especially useful is you have several segments and you need to compare its respective quantities. For example, your yearly sales. If you have your yearly sales divided month by month, each of them will become a segment of your pie chart. This will allow you to see at first glance which months have more sales, and which ones have lower ones.

Using PowerPoint pie charts is very easy and straightforward. And even better, it offers a couple of different models according to what fits better your needs and tastes. Doughnut charts are another type of pie chart. They just don’t showcase the segments all the way down to the center of the circle. Instead, they have a “doughnut” inner gap that gives it its name. 3D Pie charts are also an option to make your data stand out.

PowerPoint chart and graphs

PowerPoint also offers “Pie of pie” and “Bar of pie” chart options. These designs allow you to divide one segment into even more specific categories.

PowerPoint Area Charts

Area Charts are the perfect mix between bar charts and line graphs. Just like the latter, they allow you to display trends and compare how different categories or groups’ values change over time. Just like a line graph, it shows the data progression from one segment to another. And like a bar chart, the information is showed in a colored area that contrasts from the other categories.

powerpoint area chart template

There are two types of Area Charts: overlapping and stacked. Overlapping area charts are ideal for comparing two independent categories. For example, the sales of two (or more) different products throughout the year. The shading will help emphasize which category plays a bigger role at what point in time.

On the other hand, a stacked area chart is ideal to breakdown a total in different categories -similar to a pie graph. But a stacked area chart has the added benefit that you can not only see how much each category contributes but also its development chronologically.

PowerPoint Radar Chart

A PowerPoint radar chart (also called spider chart) is a tool that allows you to evaluate and showcase a product’s performance according to specific parameters. Whether you’re evaluating a car, a digital service, or even your employees’ performance, a PowerPoint spider chart is a great option to present this information visually and make it easily comparable.

powerpoint spider chart template

To make a PowerPoint radar chart first you need to pick your parameters according to what you’re trying to evaluate. For example, punctuality, communication skills, and technical knowledge for an employee performance evaluation. Or price, deadlines, and customer service for an online service you’re considering. The parameters you choose depend completely on what you’re planning to evaluate and what you consider important for it.

After you have your PowerPoint radar chart parameters set, you need yo assign a value for your product in each of these parameters. A simple 1 to 5 evaluation system will do, but you can customize it too. After entering these numbers in your radar chart you’ll have a very clear and straight forward picture of your product. That’s why PowerPoint Spider Charts are great for visually displaying the strengths and weaknesses of a product or service, and to compare different options accordingly.

powerpoint radar graph template

And just like in an area chart, you can add more than one product to the same chart. By making them overlap, you’ll make the comparison between them much more clear. Just be careful to make sure that there’s enough difference between them so it doesn’t look cramped!

PowerPoint Waterfall Diagram

If you’re looking for a way to display the gains and losses of your business, then a Waterfall Diagram is the one for you! Waterfall diagrams are very versatile and can be used for a wide array of things, like cashflow or even inventory. PowerPoint Waterfall charts show the sequence of positive or negative values.

PowerPoint waterfall diagram template

Waterfall diagrams are organized similarly to column charts and line graphs. Their horizontal axis shows the different segments or categories to take into consideration. And the vertical axis shows the quantitative values. But unline column charts, Waterfall diagrams are accumulative. This type of PowerPoint chart is sequential, and each segment’s bar starts where the last one ends. This gives the effect that the bars are “floating”. But it’s a very effective way to show visually the flow between positive and negative values. If you want to show your audience how the transition toward the final total, then a Waterfall chart is a great option!

PowerPoint Funnel Graphs

Funnel graphs are usually used to represent different interconnected stages of a process. A very common use for funnel graphs is sales processes, as you can easily use them to convey the different stages from leads to closed deals.

watercolor powerpoint template

The best thing about Funnel graphs is that they don’t necessarily need to be data-based. Even if it’s just to give an overview of a business process, a funnel graph is a great visual tool. However, adding data to funnel graphs can be very rewarding, as it can help you identify bottlenecks and improvement opportunities.

Free PowerPoint Graphs and Charts Templates

If you liked any of the examples used in this article, then you’re in luck! All the PowerPoint graphs and charts shown here are part of the 24Slides’ Template platform. Here you’ll find hundreds of PowerPoint templates ready for you to download and use straight away. And even better, they’re all completely free!

You’ll also find other visual aids that will help you convey your information more efficiently. For example, Venn diagrams, matrix charts, or stair diagrams. And if you’re looking to showcase a process or chronological-based information, there also is a wide array of flowcharts diagrams and timelines. If you have information that is connected to geographical locations, then a map can be a great visual tool too! And 24Slides also offers a whole section of maps from all over the world that you can download completely for free.

Using PowerPoint graphs and charts can take your presentation to the next level. They’ll add a great visual component to it, and you’ll make sure that the information remains clearly in your audience’s mind!

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