How to Graph Negative Numbers

What to do when you have ngative values? Read this tutorial to teach yourself how to insert a chart with negative values in Excel.

Creating a chart with negative data

Select you data and go to Insert -> Insert Column Chart.

insert column chart

Click insert column chart and select clustered column chart.

clustered column chart

A graph will appear in the Excel sheet. Axis can be adjusted by right clicking on the axis and selecting format axis. (Axis adjustment shown in the next steps).

Axis adjustment

Adjusting the graph to negative values

Scales can be adjusted by right clicking vertical axis and then selecting format axis. A dialog box will appear. Now adjust the vertical axis accordingly.

dialog box

You will see the changes in the graph.

chart with negative values template

Bar chart with negative values

You can also use a bar chart to show negative data. A bar graph with negative values looks like the image below.

bar chart with negative values

As you can see, the problematic part of the bar chart is that labels are obscured by negative bars. They are hard to read.

Line chart with negative values

In the picture below, I showed what a line graph with negative numbers looks like.

line chart with negative values

For line graphs with few lines, I recommend adding data labels.

Column and bar charts are much better for showing negative data. You can clearly see which bar or column is showing negative data. In a line chart, it is not so clear which numbers are negative and which are positive.

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Other types of charts are less suitable for showing negative numbers in the chart.

You can also show negative data in stacked and clustered charts.

Fine-Tuning Axis for Negative Values

To ensure your chart accurately represents negative values, you may need to adjust the vertical axis (Y-axis). Right-click on the Y-axis.

Select “Format Axis” from the context menu. A dialog box will open.

In the Axis Options section, you can modify the “Minimum” and “Maximum” values to accommodate the range of your data. Ensure the “Minimum” value is set to a point lower than your lowest negative value.

Click “Close” to apply the changes.Now your clustered column chart should properly display both positive and negative values. The vertical axis will be adjusted to show the full range of your data.