3D Plot in Excel

3D plots is also known as surface plots in excel which is used to represent three dimensional data, in order to create a three dimensional plot in a excel we need to have a three dimensional range of data which means we have three-axis x, y and z, 3D plots or surface plots can be used from the insert tab in excel.

Excel 3D Plot Chart

Before we begin making a 3D plot in excel first, we must know what a plot is. Plots are charts in excel, which visually represents the given data. There are various types of charts in excelTypes Of Charts In ExcelExcel offers a variety of chart types based on your requirements. Column Charts, Line Charts, Pie Charts, Bar Charts, Area Charts, Scatter Charts, Stock Chart, and Radar Charts are the different types of charts.read more which are used to describe the data. But mostly, the data is represented in 2D charts, which means the data or the table is in two series, i.e., X-axis and Y-axis. But what about if we have three variables X, Y, and Z, how do we plot this chart. This is what we will learn about this 3D Plot in Excel topic.

We have our problem statement that we have data in three series axis, i.e., X, Y, and Z. How do we plot this data in charts. The chart we use to represent this data is called a 3D plot or surface plot in excel. 3D plots represent three-dimensional data; here, there are three variables. One variable is dependent on the other two, while the other two variables are independents. Two-dimensional charts are useful in representing the data, while three-dimensional data are helpful in data analysis. Such as CO-relation and regression. This type of chart is plotted in the X Y and Z axis, where two axes are horizontal while one is vertical. Which axis is to remain the primary axis is complete up to the user of the chart. Which data either the independent or one of the two dependents can be the primary axis.

Where can we find a 3D plot or surface chart in excelSurface Chart In ExcelSurface Chart is a three-dimensional excel chart that plots the data points in three dimensions. You can see the mesh kind of surface which helps us to find the optimum combination between two kinds of data points.read more? In the Insert tab, under the charts section, we can find an option for surface charts.

3D plot

The charts highlighted are surface or 3D plots in excel.

How to Create a 3D Plot in Excel?

Now let us make the surface, i.e., 3d plots in excel with the help of a couple of examples.

You can download this 3D Plot Excel Template here – 3D Plot Excel Template

Example #1

Follow the below steps:

  1. Let us pick some random data first like the one below,


    3D Plot Example 1

    We have some random numbers generated in excel X Y and Z column, and we will plot this data in 3D plots.

  2. Select the data in which we want to plot the 3D chart.


    3D Plot Example 1-1

  3. Now in the Insert Tab under the charts section, click on the surface chart.


    3D Plot Example 1-2

  4. A typical 3d surface plot in excel appears below, but we cannot read much from this chart as of now.


    3D Plot Example 1-3

  5. As we can see, the working of a surface chart is in the colors. The ranges are shown in colors.


    3D Plot Example 1-4

  6. Currently, this chart is not so much readable, so right-click on the map and click on Format Chart Area.


    3D Plot Example 1-5

  7. A chart formatting toolbar will pop up then Click on Effects. In Effects, click on 3D Rotation, as shown below.


    3D Plot Example 1-6

  8. Change the values for X and Y rotation and the perspective, which will change the chart, and it will be easier to read.


    3D Plot Example 1-7

  9. This is how now the chart looks after changing the default rotation.


    3D Plot Example 1-8

  10. This is how now the chart looks after changing the default rotation.


    3D Plot Example 1-8

  11. Now we have to name the axis. We can give the axis title by clicking on the button provided by the excel.


    3D Plot Example 1-9

The above surface chart is the 3D plot for a random data selected above. Let us use 3d surface plots in excel for some tricky situations.

Example #2

Suppose we have data for a region, and its sales are made over six months, and we want to display this data by a chart. Have a look at the data below,

3D Plot Example 2

Now we want to show this in the 3D chart as we have three variables to define with. One is the month, another being the profit or loss incurred by the company, and third, the total sales done in that period of a month. Follow the following steps:

  • Select the data in which we want to plot the 3D chart.
Example 2-1
  • In the Insert Tab under the charts, section click on the surface chart.
3D Plot Example 2-2
  • The 3D chart currently looks like this one below,
3D Chart
  • The colors are indicating value ranges in the chart, and it is ranging from -20000 to 60000, but our data in the profit/loss is only between 7000 to -5000 and 30000 to 40000, so we need to change it. Right-click on the chart and click on the Format chat area.
3D Plot Example 2-4
  • A chart formatting toolbar appears, Click on effects, and at the bottom of the effects, option uncheck from autoscale.
format chart area 3D Rotation
  • The checks option of the chart toolbar in excel changes the perspective to the point at which we can view the chart correctly.
format chart area
  • Our chart currently looks like below,
3D Plot Example 2-7
  • Now there are various other charts formatting options in the Design tab, such as to add chart element.
chart formatting options

Add a title to the Chart as “Sales Data”.

sales data

Why do we use 3d Plot in excel? To answer this question, we can refer to example two. The data was in three series, i.e., we had to represent the data in three axis.

It was not possible with 2D charts as two-dimensional charts can only represent the data in two axis. 3D plots surface plots in excel work in color-coding. The color represents the ranges of the data in which they are defined.

For example, look at the screenshot below from example 2:

3D Plot Example 2-10

A different set of colors represents every range of values.

Things to Remember

  1. 3d surface Plots in Excel are useful but are very difficult to use, so they are not used very often.
  2. Out of the three-axis in a 3D plot, one is vertical while the other two axes are horizontal.
  3. In the excel 3D surface plot, the 3D rotation needs to be adjusted as per the range of data as it can be challenging to read from the chart if the perspective isn’t right.
  4. The axis should be named to avoid any confusion on which axis is the X or Y or Z-axis for the user.

Recommended Articles

This has been a Guide to 3D Plot in Excel. Here we discuss how to create a 3D Surface Plot (Chart) in Excel along with practical examples and a downloadable excel template. You may learn more about excel from the following articles –

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