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How to create and customize a Pareto chart in Microsoft Excel

Pareto charts are popular quality control tools that allow you to easily identify the most important issues. They are a combination of bar and line charts with the longest bars (most important issues) on the left. In Microsoft Excel, you can create and customize a Pareto chart.

The benefit of a Pareto chart

The main benefit of a Pareto chart structure is that you can quickly spot what you need to focus on the most. Starting on the left side, the bars go from highest to lowest. The line at the top shows a cumulative total percentage.

You usually have categories of data with representative numbers. Then you can analyze data in relation to the frequency of occurrences. These frequencies are generally based on cost, quantity, or time.

Create a Pareto chart in Excel

For this tutorial, we will use data for customer complaints. We have five categories for our clients’ complaints and numbers for the number of complaints received for each category.

Start by selecting the data for your chart. The order in which your data resides in the cells is not important because the Pareto chart structures it automatically.

Go to the Insert tab and click on the “Insert Stat Chart” drop-down arrow. Select “Pareto” in the Histogram section of the menu. Remember, a Pareto chart is a histogram diagram tidy .

On the Insert tab, click Statistical Charts, Pareto

And so a Pareto chart appears on your spreadsheet. You will see your categories as the horizontal axis and your numbers as the vertical axis. On the right side of the graph are the percentages as the vertical secondary axis.

Pareto chart inserted in the sheet

Now we can clearly see from this Pareto chart that we need to have some discussion about Price because that is our biggest complaint from customers. And we can focus less on support because we don’t get as many complaints in that category.

Pareto chart

Customize a Pareto chart

If you plan to share your chart with other people, you may want to spruce it up a bit or add and remove elements from the chart.

You can start by changing the title of the default chart. Click in the text box and add the title you want to use.

Click on the chart title to change it

In Windows, you will see useful tools on the right when you select the chart. The first is for chart elements, so you can adjust the grid lines, data labels, and legend. The second is for Chart Styles, which allows you to select a theme for the chart or a color scheme.

Adjust chart elements

You can also select the chart and go to the Chart Design tab that is displayed. The ribbon provides you with tools to change the layout or style, add or remove elements from the chart, or adjust your data selection.

Chart Design tab ribbon

One more way to customize your Pareto chart is by double-clicking to open the Format chart area sidebar. It has tabs for Fill and Line, Effects, and Size and Properties. So you can add a border, a shadow, or a specific height and width.

Format chart area sidebar for chart

You can also move your Pareto chart by dragging it or resize it by dragging it in or out from a corner or edge.

Drag a corner or edge to resize a graphic

For more chart types, take a look at how create a geographic map chart or make a bar graph in Excel.

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