How Do I Get Graphs and Charts Onto a PowerPoint Presentation?

Use charts to make attention-getting comparisons.
... Jetta Productions/Photodisc/Getty Images

Creating a graph or chart in your PowerPoint presentation may seem like a daunting task at first. But when you get started, you'll find that the process is almost fully automated. All you really need to do is pick a chart style and enter your numbers, and then PowerPoint does most of the rest. PowerPoint supports bar charts, line graphs, pie charts and many other styles. If you already have a graph or chart you created in Microsoft Word or Excel, you can simply copy and paste it into PowerPoint.

Launch PowerPoint and navigate to the slide in your presentation where you want to include the chart.

Click the "Insert" tab, and then click "Chart" in the Illustrations group. Alternatively, if the slide has a blank content placeholder, you can just click the chart icon.

Select a chart style from the Insert Chart dialog box. You can choose from a variety of styles, including bar charts, line charts and pie charts. When you click a style, PowerPoint shows a preview of how the chart will look.

Click "OK" after you decide on a style. If you're not sure, just take a guess --you can always change your mind later by clicking "Change Chart Type" from the Design tab. PowerPoint opens a small data table where you can enter the chart labels and numbers. The table includes sample data to help get you started.

Replace the sample data with your own numbers. For a simple series of numbers, you can put them all into a single row or a single column. For more complex number tables, add additional rows or columns. PowerPoint updates the chart while you enter the numbers, so you can see how the new data affects the chart. If you have a large amount of data stored in a spreadsheet, you can copy and paste the numbers all at once.

Replace the text in the chart with labels that describe your data. The labels appear on your chart as you enter them.

Add any finishing touches to the appearance of your chart. You can select one of several chart styles from the Design ribbon, or you can change the colors and other special effects from the Format ribbon.

  • Information in this article applies to Microsoft PowerPoint 2013 and 2010. It may vary slightly or significantly with other versions.
  • When you save your presentation, the numbers for your chart are saved along with the file. To change the numbers used in a chart, right-click the chart and select "Edit Data."
  • If you want to "rotate" your chart so that data is grouped by columns instead of rows, click the "Switch Row/Column" command on the Design ribbon.

Alan Sembera began writing for local newspapers in Texas and Louisiana. His professional career includes stints as a computer tech, information editor and income tax preparer. Sembera now writes full time about business and technology. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Texas A&M University.