powerpoint logo

Charts and graphs serve little purpose if the audience doesn’t know what each section of the illustration represents. Adding a color-coded legend is the perfect way to keep the audience on track.

Inserting a Graph in PowerPoint

The first step is to create your graphic illustrating the data trends you’d like to show. Luckily, PowerPoint comes with several different graphs and charts from which to choose. The most difficult part of this process is choosing the graphic that you like best.

RELATED: How to Create Animated Pie Charts in PowerPoint

First, head over to the slide in which we will insert the graph. Next, switch to the “Insert” tab and then click “Chart.”

The “Insert Chart” window will appear. You can select your desired chart type in the left-hand pane. We’ll choose “Pie” in this example. Once you’ve chosen your chart, click “OK.”

Your chart will now appear in the PowerPoint slide, along with a small spreadsheet. Type whatever data you want into the spreadsheet and then close the spreadsheet window.

The cool thing about this method is you don’t actually have to create a color-coded legend at all. Excel makes one for you!

There are, however, a few customization options to give your legend a style you like.

Customizing Your Legend

PowerPoint lets you change the location, font style, and color of the legend. To change the position of the legend, select the chart, and then select the “Chart Elements” icon.

A small menu will appear to the side. Hover your cursor over “Legend” to make the options arrow appear. Click this arrow, and another menu lets you select the location for your legend.

You can also select “More Options” to open the “Format Legend” pane on the right-hand side. The only additional option you get, though, is “top-right.”

Once you’re happy with the position of your legend, it’s time to move on to other formatting options. To change the legend font, first, select the legend and then right-click it. In the menu that appears, select “Font.”

Here, you can change the font, size, and color of your text. You can also add effects such as strikethrough. Once you’ve adjusted the settings of your text, click “OK.”

You can also change the background and border of the legend. To do this, you’ll need to open the Legend Format pane by right-clicking the legend and selecting “Format Legend” from the menu.

To change the background of the legend, select the “Fill and Line” icon in the pane. Next, pick your fill type. There are several different options to choose from, and each one gives you a preview once selected. We’ll use “Gradient fill” in this example.

Your legend would now look something like this:

You can also edit the border of the legend by selecting “Border” in the “Fill and Line” tab. Once selected, choose your border style.

To give your legend some special effects, select the “Effects” icon from the Format Legend pane and then choose the type of effect you’d like to give your legend from the list of options.

To change the color of the legend that corresponds with the data inside the chart, you’ll have to do that within the chart itself. Right-click the section of the chart for which you’d like to change the color, select the “Fill” option from the menu that appears, and then choose the color you want. You’ll notice the legend change colors with the corresponding data in the chart.

choosing a fill color

You can also select some of the predefined color options PowerPoint has available. On the “Design” tab, select “Change Colors.”

Once selected, a drop-down menu will appear. Here, you can choose the color scheme you like.

Your pie chart (and legend) will take on the selected color scheme.

Marshall Gunnell
Marshall Gunnell is a writer with experience in the data storage industry. He worked at Synology, and most recently as CMO and technical staff writer at StorageReview. He's currently an API/Software Technical Writer at LINE Corporation in Tokyo, Japan, runs ITEnterpriser, a data-storage and cybersecurity-focused online media, and plays with development, with his RAID calculator being his first public project.
Read Full Bio »

The above article may contain affiliate links, which help support How-To Geek.