# 4 Stacked Bar Charts in Excel

Looking for simple, intuitive ways to show quantitative data? One good option is the stacked bar chart. This kind of graph is a visual representation of how a whole value is broken down into its component parts. Think of it as a pie chart in bar graph form, where each column in a bar graph is segmented into different colors. You have probably seen such a graph without knowing its name, since they are just a form of bar graph.

To create this as a Chart Template in Microsoft Excel might take some time for those unfamiliar with the tech details. Download and use these free stacked charts and save yourself the trouble.

## When Do I Use a Stacked Bar Chart?

When do you choose a stacked bar graph instead of the usual line graph or a simple bar graph? Thanks to its nature, a stacked bar graph is best used to display and analyze cumulative values. Your data has to make sense when added up to a total.

With that in mind, there are two ways you can format this graph:

• As a simple stacked bar. Each segment value is merely placed on top of the previous one. In the end, the size of the bar will show the cumulative total of each segment.
• As a percentage stacked bar. Each bar along the axis will be of the same size to show the 100 percent value, and each segment’s value will be calculated as a percentage of that total.

A common use for a percentage stacked bar is in poll results for two values.

• Example: How many Republicans vs. Democrats out of the total voting population voted for a presidential candidate.

Any data set that can be shown in a pie chart can be translated into a percentage stacked bar graph.

## How Do I Create a Stacked Bar Chart?

Thanks to these templates, you don’t have to. You can create an Excel Chart Template for most types of visual data presentations, and creating a stacked chart on Excel with these templates is just a matter of coding in your data set.

## Is There a Downside to Using This Graph?

As opposed to the usual bar graph with multiple columns, one downside to using the stacked bar chart is that the more segments are involved, the harder it is to read (and you can run out of colors quickly too).

It is also common to mistake what kind of data can be or should be presented in this manner.

• Example: A stacked bar graph doesn’t work to show how projects can be broken down into component steps or activities. This kind of data is best shown in a Gantt Chart Template.

## Other Charts for School and Business

The usefulness of a stacked bar chart is limited to specific types of data sets, mainly cumulative data.

If your data doesn’t fit into any of these templates, or if it starts to seem too complicated, you might want to look at other charts we have here on Template.net. If you’re looking for more ways to show data visually, start with the Flow Chart Template and the Waterfall Chart Template.

Click down on the Business tab on our homepage and select “Charts” for even more options.