Step Chart in Excel (Table of Contents)
Excel Step Chart
The fluctuation of numbers from one period to another was shown through the line chart all these while, the line chart doesn’t tell the changes of one period to another to non-regular users of excel. So here we have improved chart i.e. “Step Chart” in Excel.
For an example look at the below excel chart which is the preview of the Step Chart we are going to prepare.
Unfortunately, the step chart isn’t the built-in chart to prepare straight away, so we need to do some modifications to prepare our own chart.
What is Step Chart in Excel?
It is the alternative available to line chart to show the changes or trends between multiple periods visually. It is a kind of line chart that shows the changes from one period to another through a vertical and horizontal line to show the progress from one period to another.
You must be wondering what is the difference between Line Chart and Step Chart, we will show the difference between these two charts at the end of this article.
How to Create Step Chart (Graph) in Excel?
Below is the example of a step chart (graph) in excel.
To create a step chart I have considered stock price from the past 8 months. Below is the data on the stock price of a commodity from the past 8 months.
Let’s create a line chart for this and keep this aside.
Now we will follow the below steps to create a chart.
Step 1: Insert two new columns with the same headers.
Step 2: Now copy the date values from A3 to A9 and paste in the new column D2. Here you need to ignore the first date value.
Step 3: Now copy the Stock Price from B2 to B8 and paste in E2. Here you need to ignore the last value.
Step 4: Now copy actual data from A2 to B9 paste in D9 cell.
Step 5: Now select the data and insert Line Chart.
Now we have our Chart.
For this chart, we need to do some formatting.
Select the vertical left axis and press Ctrl + 1 to open up the format data series option.
Shortcut Key for Format Data Series:
Now click on “Axis Option” >>> set the minimum value to 100, maximum to 135 and major value to 5.
Now click on the horizontal axis and click on “Number” formatting and change the date format to “MMM-YYYY”.
Change the “Line” color to green.
Now we have our chart ready.
It looks simple, isn’t it?
Let’s look at the first two rows of data in the original data set.
Select the only colored portion of the rows and insert line chart and it looks like this now.
Now instead of showing the trend line like this, we need to show a horizontal line between the first date to the second date. So for this purpose, enter the stock price of the first date (119) to the second date as well before inserting the actual value of the second date.
So, like this, for we need to create previous date value for the next date, so that is what we did with helper columns in column “D” & “E”.
Now we need to understand the difference between Line Chart & Step Chart is.
Difference between Line Chart and Step Chart
Below are some of the general differences.
A-Line Chart shows the trend of data points and it will not focus on the exact time of change or fluctuation of data points from one period to another.
On the other hand “A Step Chart” shows the trend shows the exact time of change along with the trend of the data points as well.
As you can (red marked area) line chart shows that after the first month it shows a consistent decline in stock price but the step chart shows that price actually declined only in February month.
Finding the actual trend could be tricky with a line chart because it doesn’t show the exact trend of change and how much. But a step graph due to its horizontal line can show the actual trend with clear visibility.
As you can see above the line chart shows that decline started from Mar to June but the Step chart also shows a decline but not with consistent decline throughout the months.
Things to Remember
- Showing difference from one period to another is the main advantage of this chart.
- It can tell the story better than line Chart.
- If don’t want to show the full date in the horizontal axis of the chart then you can change the date format under the chart formatting section.
- You need to adjust the minimum value, maximum value and manor interval point to fit in your chart to look better.
This has been a guide to step chart. Here we discuss how to create a step graph in excel along with examples and downloadable excel template. You may learn more about excel from the following articles –