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Creating Charts Using Existing Excel Data in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows

Learn how to use already available Excel data to create charts in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows.


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Product/Version: PowerPoint 2013 for Windows

OS: Windows 7 and higher






You may have started from scratch with inserting a new chart on your PowerPoint slide. This of course brings up an instance of the Excel sheet with some dummy data -- and indeed you can type in your own data to replace this dummy data. However, what if you already have some data that's within an Excel sheet -- can you use that data to create your PowerPoint chart? The answer is yes, and that's what you are going to learn in this tutorial.

Note: The Excel sheet that contains the dummy data has no real name or location. Even though it's an Excel file, it lives as part of the PowerPoint presentation that includes a chart. So don't try looking for that Excel sheet on your computer's folders. It just doesn't exist there!

Look at Figure 1, below. A default chart inserted in PowerPoint 2013 may look like the one that you see in Figure 1.

A new chart inserted in PowerPoint
Figure 1: A new chart inserted in PowerPoint

All the data that works behind the scenes for any chart in PowerPoint 2013 is essentially stored in an Excel sheet, as shown in Figure 2, below. You see this Excel sheet the first time you insert a chart. Within this Excel sheet, your data will show up in rows and columns. Figure 2 shows the Excel data for the chart that you saw in Figure 1, earlier on this page.

Dummy chart data within an instance of the Excel sheet
Figure 2: Dummy chart data within an instance of the Excel sheet

Tip: Want to bring up this Excel sheet that contains the data after your chart has already been created? Explore our Edit Chart Data in PowerPoint 2013 tutorial.

You can bring in data that's already on an existing Excel sheet by following this step-by-step process:

  1. Insert a new chart on your slide as shown in Figure 1, earlier on this page. Thereafter, make sure that the instance of Excel sheet containing the chart's dummy data is visible, as shown in Figure 2, above.
  2. Now, open the Excel sheet containing data. Figure 3 shows the Excel sheet containing our sample data.

    Data to be used for chart
    Figure 3: Data to be used for chart
  3. As you can see in this case (compare Figures 2 and 3), the dummy data and the actual data are a bit different. It does not matter if the values were different. What matters is that:

    1. Our data contains four Series -- the dummy data has only three Series.
    2. Our data contains five Categories -- the dummy data has only four Categories.
    The above examples are just "examples". We just wanted to create a scenario where the dummy data and the actual data may have a different number of Series and Categories.

    Before we can paste in the content from our Excel sheet to the one that includes the dummy data, we need to add one extra Series and also an extra Category within our dummy data.
  4. Add new Categories or Series, as explained in our Adding and Deleting Chart Series and Categories in PowerPoint 2013 tutorial. We added one extra row and one extra column, as shown in Figure 4.

    Chart Categories and Series added
    Figure 4: Chart Categories and Series added

    Conversely, if your Excel data includes fewer Series or Categories, you will need to delete that many rows / columns from the dummy data. This is again explained in our Adding and Deleting Chart Series and Categories in PowerPoint 2013 tutorial.
  5. Once your actual data and dummy data have the same number of rows and columns, copy the actual data from your Excel sheet and paste to overwrite the dummy data, as shown within the results in Figure 5, below.

    Dummy data overwritten with actual data
    Figure 5: Dummy data overwritten with actual data

    Tip: Do you see that extra column heading named 'Column1', highlighted in red within Figure 5? This does not show up on the chart -- if you don't want to see this text, feel free to delete it within your Excel sheet.
  6. Now, explore your PowerPoint slide. You will see the chart on your slide reflecting the actual data. Figure 6 shows our sample chart after we copied and pasted the actual data over the dummy data (compare Figures 1 and 6).

    Chart reflecting the new data
    Figure 6: Chart reflecting the new data
  7. Save your presentation often.

See Also: Creating Charts Using Excel Data in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac

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