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Make a Bar Chart Online with Plotly and Excel

Bar charts with Plotly

Step 1

Upload your Excel Data to Plotly's Grid

Open the data file for this tutorial in Excel. You can download the file here in CSV format

Step 2

Head to Plotly

Head to Plotly's Workspace and sign into your free Plotly account. Go to 'Import', click 'Upload a file', then choose your Excel file to upload. Your Excel file will now open in Plotly's grid. For more about Plotly's grid, see this tutorial

Import data

Step 3

Upload your Excel Data to Plotly's Grid (two traces)

The first option is to arrange these two data sets into two different columns.

Two different columns

Select 'Bar Charts' from the MAKE A PLOT menu


Click the blue plot button in the sidebar to create the chart.


Step 4

Upload your Excel data to Plotly's Grid (group by)

Your second option is to have a column of variables identifying which dataset each row belongs to, and then 'grouping by' this column.


Select 'Group by' from the OPTIONS in the sidebar, and select your options column.

Choose as G

Click the blue plot button in the sidebar to create the chart.

Bar Chart

Step 5

Setting the Traces

Your plot should look something like this.


The first step to styling it into the horizontal bar graph above is to open the TRACES popover in the toolbar.

Traces popover

Here's how the MODE tab of the TRACES popover for 'All Traces (Bar)' should look.

Chart Style Horizontal

(Alternative: if you want to stack or overlay your bars, instead of grouping them, just change the 'Mode' setting.)

Style mode


Stacked bar chart

Step 6

Style it!

Now your plot should look something like this: a grouped horizontal bar chart. We still have some styling to do to get the plot at the top of this tutorial! Open TRACES again.

Grouped horizontal bar chart

This is how the STYLE tab of the TRACES popover on LA Zoo should look. We've altered every option in this panel Opacity, Bar Gap, Group Gap, Fill, and Outline.

Style tab of Traces popover

This is how the 'Style' tab of the TRACES popover on 'SF Zoo' should look. These are the same as for LA Zoo, but fill and outline are different colors.

Style tab options

This is how the LAYOUT popover should look. We're changing the font throughout the plot.

Layout popover general options

We're also giving the plot a grey background, and nudging the margins.

Layout popover margin options

This is how the AXES popover should look. We're giving the plot thicker white gridlines.

Increase gridline thickness

This is how the LEGEND popover should look, we're giving it a grey background, too.

Legend popover background color

Step 7

Export and Share

You can download your finished Plotly graph to embed in your Excel workbook. We also recommend including the Plotly link to the graph inside your Excel workbook for easy access to the interactive Plotly version. Get the link to your graph by clicking the 'Share' button. Download an image of your Plotly graph by clicking EXPORT on the toolbar.


Your finished chart should look something like this

Bar chart

To add the Excel file to your workbook, click where you want to insert the picture inside Excel. On the INSERT tab inside Excel, in the ILLUSTRATIONS group, click PICTURE. Locate the Plotly graph image that you downloaded and then double-click it. Notice that we also copy-pasted the Plotly graph link in a cell for easy access to the interactive Plotly version.


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