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How to create a bi-directional bar chart in Excel?

If you have some data as shown as below, and you want to insert a chart to show them and compare them. I suppose that creating a bi-directional bar chart in Excel can be a good choice. Now, I will introduce the creating steps on bi-directional bar for you.

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Create a bi-directional bar chart

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arrow blue right bubble Create a bi-directional bar chart


To create a bi-directional bar chart is a little fussy, please read the following details.

Firstly, we need to insert a bar chart and add a secondary axis.

1. Select the data range, and click Insert > Bar to insert a bar type you like. See screenshot:

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2. Right click the legend in the bar and select Format legend from the context menu. See screenshot:

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3. Then in the Format Legend dialog (or Format Legend pane in Excel 2013), check Top option in Legend Options section, and close the dialog.

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4. Now right click one series in the bar chart, select Format Data Series in the context menu. See screenshot:

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5. Check Secondary Axis option in Series Options section and close the dialog. Then you can see the bar chart has two X axis.

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Then you need set the axis format.

6. Right click the secondary axis you create in above steps, and select Format Axis in the context menu.

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7. In the Format Axis dialog, please do as follow:

(1). Check Fixed options in Minimum, Maximum and Major unit.

(2). Then specify min value, max value and interval unit in the text boxes based on your needs. Here because my data’s maximum is 5200, I type -6000 and 6000 into the Minimum and Maximum text boxes, and 1000 in Major unit text box.

(3). Check Values in reverse order option.

(4). Close this Format Axis dialog.

Tip 1: The Minimum is not the min value of your data, but the negative number of the max value.

Tip 2: In Excel 2013’s Format Axis pane, just enter the specified values in the Minimum box, Maximum box, and Major box directly, and check the Values in reserve order as well.

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                                                             Excel 2010

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                            Excel 2013

8. Right click the primary axis, and then select Format Axis to open Format Axis dialog, then specify the setting as same as above, but uncheck Values in reverse order option.

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Now a bi-directional bar chart is created successfully.

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You may think that this bar chart is not beautiful enough. Now you can beauty it as follow:

9. Right click the vertical axis and select Format Axis in the context menu, then specify Major trick mark type, Minor trick mark type, and Axis labels as None, None and Low successively in the Format Axis dialog/pane.

doc-bi-directional-bar-13

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Tip: In Excel 2013, you need to click TRICK MARKS and LABELS in the Format Axis pane to expand the options. See screenshot:

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10. Close the dialog, and then click the trick mark, and press Delete key to delete them. Now a beautiful bi-directional bar chart is created.

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