Save time by re-using that terrific chart you worked hard to perfect


by Kara Hiltz

Application: Microsoft Excel 2016

Operating System: Microsoft Windows


As Excel gives you more options for creating charts, including new ways to format and style charts, you may end up spending a lot of time exploring these new features and getting your chart just right. Now you won’t need to put in all that time and effort again; you can just use a chart template.

To create and re-use a custom chart template, we’ll:

  • Build a chart that’s just right for our data and format according to our preferences.
  • Save the finished chart as a chart template.
  • Create a new chart from the saved chart template.

Many Excel users take great pride in their charts, which can transform boring numerical data into visual representations that really strike home. Excel 2016 has added six new chart types and many ways to customize a chart’s formatting and style elements.

With all of the customization you’re putting into your chart, you may want to emulate that chart’s look and feel in the future.Instead of starting from scratch each time, you can save your favorite chart as a chart template. Then, when you’re ready to use it again, you can utilize the template as the blueprint for a new chart, as shown in Figure A.



Excel 2016 shows you a preview of each chart template, so you can easily choose the one you want to use.

Build the ideal chart for your data

In our example, we’ve created a monthly personal budget that we’d like to re-use as circumstances change or as a tool for comparing different budget options, as shown in Figure B. To get a quick idea of how much we’re investing in different budget categories each month, we’ll create a visually appealing pie chart that will make a great candidate for a chart template.

Download: If you want to follow along with our example, just download and extract the file monthlybudget.xls from the URL given at the beginning of the article.



Our pie chart will turn this monthly budget into a pie chart that will reveal where we’re putting the bulk of our money.

To format and style a new chart:

  1. Select any cell within the data table you want to chart.
  2. Go to the Insert tab and click on Recommended Charts in the Charts area.
  3. In the Insert Chart dialog box, choose the Pie Chart thumbnail on the left to view a preview of your data formatted as a pie chart, as shown in Figure C.
  4. Click OK to insert the chart on your worksheet.
  5. Exclude the totals rows from the pie chart by using the resizing handles on the data table. Drag them up so that the two totals rows are no longer included in the pie chart. Your chart will update in real time.
  6. Make any other changes you’d like, such as updating the title, relocating or removing the legend, changing colors, or using a chart style provided in the Chart Styles palette. We made all of these changes in our example, but your changes may differ depending on your data and your chart type.

Figure D shows our finished pie chart displaying what percentage of our monthly budget each category contributes.

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