Present your data in a bubble chart

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A bubble chart is a variation of a scatter chart in which the data points are replaced with bubbles, and an additional dimension of the data is represented in the size of the bubbles. Just like a scatter chart, a bubble chart does not use a category axis  both horizontal and vertical axes are value axes. In addition to the x values and y values that are plotted in a scatter chart, a bubble chart plots x values, y values, and z (size) values.

You can use a bubble chart instead of a scatter chart if your data has three data series that each contain a set of values. The sizes of the bubbles are determined by the values in the third data series. Bubble charts are often used to present financial data. Different bubble sizes are useful to visually emphasize specific values.

To create a bubble chart, arrange your data in rows or columns on a worksheet so that x values are listed in the first row or column and corresponding y values and bubble size (z) values are listed in adjacent rows or columns. For example, organize your worksheet data as shown in the following picture.

In this bubble chart, the number of products is displayed along the horizontal axis, the sales amounts are displayed along the vertical axis, and the market share percentages are represented by the size of the bubbles.

Consider using a bubble chart when your data includes the following:

Three values per data pointThree values are required for each bubble. These values can be in rows or columns on the worksheet, but they must be in the following order: x value, y value, and then z value.

Multiple data seriesPlotting multiple data series in a bubble chart (multiple bubble series) is similar to plotting multiple data series in a scatter chart (multiple scatter series). Scatter charts use sets of x values and y values, but bubble charts use sets of x values, y values, and z values.

When you create a bubble chart, you can choose to display bubbles in 2-D format or with a 3-D effect.

So, how did we create this bubble chart? The following procedure will help you create a bubble chart with similar results. For this chart, we used the example worksheet data. You can copy this data to your worksheet, or you can use your own data.

Copy the example worksheet data into a blank worksheet, or open the worksheet that contains the data that you want to plot in a bubble chart.

Create a blank workbook or worksheet.

Select the example in the Help topic.

Note:Do not select the row or column headers.

In the worksheet, select cell A1, and press CTRL+V.

Note:Make sure that your worksheet has at least four rows or columns of data. When you create a bubble chart from three or fewer rows or columns of data, the chart does not plot the bubbles correctly.

Select the data that you want to plot in the bubble chart.

Note:It is best not to include row or column headings in the selection. If you select the headings with your data, the chart may produce incorrect results.

On theInserttab, in theChartsgroup, click the arrow next toScatter Charts.

Select the bubble with the 3-D effect icon.

Click the chart area of the chart. This displays theChart Tools.

UnderChart Tools, on theDesigntab, in theChart Stylesgroup, click the chart style that you want to use.

If you see a legend on the chart, click the legend, and then press DELETE.

To change the size of the chart, on theFormattab, in theSizegroup, select the shape size that you want in theShape HeightandShape Widthbox, and then press ENTER.

For our bubble chart, we used3.5for both shape height and shape width.

To format and position a chart title on the chart, click the chart area, and then do the following:

In the chart, click the chart title, and then type the text that you want.

For our bubble chart, we typedIndustry Market Share Study.

To reduce the size of the chart title, right-click the title, selectFont, and then enter the size that you want.

To align the chart title with the plot area, click the chart title, and then drag it to the position that you want.

To add a horizontal axis title, click the chart area of the chart, and then do the following:

Click the plus sign next to the chart

SelectAxis Titles, and then selectPrimary Horizontal.

Select the Axis Title text box, and then enter your text.

For our bubble chart, we typedNumber of products.

Click the vertical axis, or select it from a list of chart elements (Formattab,Current Selectiongroup,Chart Elementsbox).

On theFormattab, in theCurrent Selectiongroup, clickFormat Selection.

UnderAxis Options, do the following:

ForMaximum, type the number that you want.

For our bubble chart, we typed80000.

In theFormat Axisdialog box, clickNumber.

UnderNumber, in theDecimal placesbox, type0(zero), and then click the down arrow in the upper-right corner, and clickClose.

To apply a special formatting effect to the plot area, chart area, chart title, or vertical axis of the chart, click that chart element, or select it from a list of chart elements (Formattab,Current Selectiongroup,Chart Elementsbox), and then do the following:

On theFormattab, in theShape Stylesgroup, click theMorebutton next toShape Effects.

Click the effect that you want to use.

If you want to use theme colors different from the default theme that is applied to your workbook, do the following:

On thePage Layouttab, in theThemesgroup, clickThemes.

Click the theme that you want to use. (Hover over each theme to see a preview of how the theme will appear when applied to your chart.)

You can save the chart as a template that you can use as the basis for other similar charts. For more information, go toSave a custom chart as a template.

So, how did we create this bubble chart? The following procedure will help you create a bubble chart with similar results. For this chart, we used the example worksheet data. You can copy this data to your worksheet, or you can use your own data.

Copy the example worksheet data into a blank worksheet, or open the worksheet that contains the data that you want to plot in a bubble chart.

How to copy the example worksheet data

Create a blank workbook or worksheet.

Select the example in the Help topic.

Note:Do not select the row or column headers.

In the worksheet, select cell A1, and press CTRL+V.

Note:Make sure that your worksheet has at least four rows or columns of data. When you create a bubble chart from three or fewer rows or columns of data, the chart does not plot the bubbles correctly.

Select the data that you want to plot in the bubble chart.

Note:It is best not to include row or column headings in the selection. If you select the headings with your data, the chart may produce incorrect results.

On theInserttab, in theChartsgroup, clickOther Charts.

UnderBubble, clickBubble with a 3-D Effect.

This displays theChart Tools, adding theDesign,Layout, andFormattabs.

On theDesigntab, in theChart Stylesgroup, click the chart style that you want to use.

For our bubble chart, we usedStyle 29.

On the chart, click the legend, and then press DELETE.

To change the size of the chart, on theFormattab, in theSizegroup, select the shape size that you want in theShape HeightandShape Widthbox, and then press ENTER.

For our bubble chart, we used3.5for both shape height and shape width.

To add, format, and position a chart title on the chart, click the chart area, and then do the following:

On theLayouttab, in theLabelsgroup, clickChart Title, and then clickAbove Chart.

In the chart, click the chart title, and then type the text that you want.

For our bubble chart, we typedIndustry Market Share Study.

To reduce the size of the chart title, right-click the title, and then enter the size that you want in theSizebox on the shortcut menu.

To align the chart title with the plot area, click the chart title, and then drag it to the position that you want.

To add a horizontal axis title, click the chart area of the chart, and then do the following:

On theLayouttab, in theLabelsgroup, clickAxis Titles, and then clickPrimary Horizontal Axis Title, and then clickTitle Below Axis.

Click the horizontal axis title, type the text that you want, and then press ENTER.

For our bubble chart, we typedNumber of products.

Click the vertical axis, or select it from a list of chart elements (Layouttab,Current Selectiongroup,Chart Elementsbox).

On theFormattab, in theCurrent Selectiongroup, clickFormat Selection.

UnderAxis Options, do the following:

ForMinimum, select theFixedoption, and then type0(zero) in theFixedbox.

ForMaximum, select theFixedoption, and then type the number that you want in theFixedbox.

For our bubble chart, we typed80000.

In theFormat Axisdialog box, clickNumber.

UnderNumber, in theDecimal placesbox, type0(zero), and then clickClose.

To apply a special formatting effect to the plot area, chart area, chart title, or vertical axis of the chart, click that chart element, or select it from a list of chart elements (Layouttab,Current Selectiongroup,Chart Elementsbox), and then do the following:

Click the effect that you want to use.

For our bubble chart, we used theSubtle Effect – Accent 4for the plot area,Intense Effect – Accent 4for the chart area,Subtle Effect – Accent 4for the chart title, andIntense Line – Accent 6for the vertical axis.

If you want to use theme colors different from the default theme that is applied to your workbook, do the following:

On thePage Layouttab, in theThemesgroup, clickThemes.

UnderBuilt-in, click the theme that you want to use.

For our bubble chart, we used theFoundrytheme.

If you want to create another chart like the one that you just created, you can save the chart as a template that you can use as the basis for other similar charts.

Click the chart that you want to save as a template.

On theDesigntab, in theTypegroup, clickSave as Template.

In theFile namebox, type a name for the template.

Unless you specify a different folder, the template file (.crtx) will be saved in thefolder, and the template becomes available under

For more information about how to apply a chart template, seeSave a custom chart as a template.

Note:A chart template contains chart formatting and stores the colors that are in use when you save the chart as a template. When you use a chart template to create a chart in another workbook, the new chart uses the colors of the chart template  not the colors of the document theme that is currently applied to the workbook. To use the document theme colors instead of the chart template colors, right-click the chart area, and then clickReset to Match Styleon the shortcut menu.