Chart in Microsoft Word

Sometimes documents you’re authoring can benefit from an illustrative chart. Rather than taking the time to set up a chart in another application and embedding it or copying and pasting it into Microsoft Word, you can use the built-in chart feature.

RELATED: How to Link or Embed an Excel Worksheet in a Word Document

Create a Chart in Word

You might be creating a company report, business proposal, or college essay where a data-filled visual is an ideal addition.

Place your cursor where you want the chart in your Word document. Then, go to the Insert tab and click “Chart” in the Illustrations section of the ribbon.

Go to Insert, Chart

Pick the type of chart you want to add on the left and the style on the right. If you’re familiar with the chart options in Excel, you can choose from the same types in Word like bar, column, pie, line, and many others. Click “OK” to insert the chart.

Select a chart

Once you insert the chart, an Excel spreadsheet will open. The sheet contains sample data to get you started and is a stripped-down version of Excel without tabs or a ribbon.

Chart with data in a spreadsheet

You can edit the data in the spreadsheet to include your own or copy and paste the data from another spot into the attached sheet. You’ll then see the chart in Word immediately update with your changes.

Edit chart data

RELATED: How to Choose a Chart to Fit Your Data in Microsoft Excel

Update the Chart Data

Anytime you want to update the data for the chart, you can do so by heading to the Chart Design tab.

Click the drop-down arrow for Edit Data. Select “Edit Data” to display the small spreadsheet you had when you created the chart, or select “Edit Data in Excel” to open the sheet in a standard Excel window with tabs and a ribbon.

Customize a Chart in Word

Once you insert the chart into Word with the data you want, you can make some customizations. You can add a title, adjust the colors, pick a theme, include a legend, and more. Again, if you’re familiar with customizing charts in Excel, you’ll recognize the below options.

RELATED: How to Create and Customize a Funnel Chart in Microsoft Excel

Use the Chart Design Tab

Select the chart and go to the Chart Design tab. Starting on the left side of the ribbon you can add, remove, and position chart elements, change the layout, pick new colors, and select a style.

Chart Design tab in Word

On the right side of the Chart Design ribbon, you have an option for Change Chart Type. If you believe a different type of graph would work better with your data, you can select it here.

Open the Format Chart Sidebar

If you’d like to change the font, border, or specifics of the chart like a series or axis, you can use the Format Chart sidebar.

Right-click the chart and pick “Format Chart Area” or double-click the chart.

Select Format Chart Area

When the sidebar opens, click the arrow next to Chart Options to select a part of the chart to adjust.

Choose a Chart Option

Use the tabs at the top of the sidebar for fill and line colors, effects, and properties. These tabs change depending on the chart area you select in the drop-down list.

Format the chart using the sidebar

Use the Floating Buttons on Windows

If you’re using Word on Windows, you also have floating buttons for quick changes to your chart. Select the graph, and these will display on the right side.

You can then change the Layout Options for the chart’s placement within the text. You can also use the Chart Elements, Chart Styles, and Chart Filters buttons to adjust items on the chart, choose a color scheme, and apply filters.

Chart buttons in Word on Windows

By creating a chart directly in Microsoft Word, you can save yourself a bit of time. This is especially handy if you’re using a small amount of data that’s beneficial to your Word document.

If you’re interested in other ways to use charts in your documents, take a look at how to create a flowchart in Word.

Profile Photo for Sandy Writtenhouse Sandy Writtenhouse
With her B.S. in Information Technology, Sandy worked for many years in the IT industry as a Project Manager, Department Manager, and PMO Lead. She learned how technology can enrich both professional and personal lives by using the right tools. And, she has shared those suggestions and how-tos on many websites over time. With thousands of articles under her belt, Sandy strives to help others use technology to their advantage.
Read Full Bio »