Create a PowerPoint chart/graph with 2 Y-axes and 2 chart types

How do you create a chart in PowerPoint that looks like this? It has:

  • 2 different Y-axes each with a different scale
  • 2  different chart types–column and line

powerpoint-tips-charts-with-2-types-and-axes-1

I learned this feature of PowerPoint charts recently from my friend and fellow PowerPoint MVP, Echo Swinford. She is one of the top experts in the world on PowerPoint and specifically PowerPoint charts.

Charts like this are very useful when you’re comparing 2 very different types of data. This chart is from a course of practitioners of the Transcendental Meditation technique that took place in 1993 in Washington, D.C. It compares police statistics of homicides, rapes and assaults during the course with the number of people who were on the course, which lasted 8 weeks.

Here’s what the data looks like in Excel.

powerpoint-tips-charts-with-2-types-and-axes-2

Note: I found the actual chart online and estimated the numbers from the chart. I didn’t have the actual numbers, so these numbers will be slightly different from the numbers used in the study.

Follow these steps to create a chart like this in PowerPoint 2007 or 2010:

1. In PowerPoint, right-click off the slide, choose Layout, and choose the Title & Content layout.

2. On the slide, click the Chart icon, which looks like a column/bar chart.

3. In the Insert Chart dialog box, choose one of the types of chart that you want. I chose Column. Click OK.

4. A temporary Excel spreadsheet opens with dummy data. Copy the data from your spreadsheet to the clipboard, switch to the temporary Excel spreadsheet, click in cell A1, and paste.

5. Drag the bottom-right corner of the blue border to fit your data.

Here’s what my data looks like.

powerpoint-tips-prseenter-view-3

 

6. Return to your PowerPoint slide to look at the chart. Here’s what mine looks like.

powerpoint-tips-prseenter-view-4

7. Oops! That’s not right. The weeks should be on the X -xis, along the bottom. You often have to switch the rows & columns. You do this on the Chart Tools Design tab; click the Switch Row/Column button in the Data group. Here’s the result.

powerpoint-tips-prseenter-view-5

That’s much better. Now, the weeks of the course are along the X-axis where they belong. Of course, the data, specifically for the % change in violence isn’t right and that’s what we’ll change.

8. Because the change in violence data is negative numbers, you can’t see that series.  But click along the X-axis  and you can select it, as you see here. Note the round “handles.”

powerpoint-tips-prseenter-view-6

9. First, we’ll change the scale for this series. Right-click the selected series and choose Format Data Series. In the Format Data Series dialog box, with the Series Options category selected, choose Secondary Axis, to plot that series on a secondary axis.

powerpoint-tips-prseenter-view-7

10. Now look at the chart in PowerPoint. All of a sudden, you can see the data!

powerpoint-tips-prseenter-view-8

11. But having both sets of data as columns is confusing. You can emphasize the difference — making the chart clearer — by turning one of the series into a line. Right-click the series again and choose Change Series Chart Type.

12. The Change Chart Type dialog box opens. It’s the same as the Insert Chart dialog box. Choose a different chart type. In this case, I chose a Line chart type. Click OK.

Make some minor adjustments and you have the slide I showed at the top of this post.

Do you have a use for this type of chart? Share your experiences with charts that have 2 chart types and 2 Y-axes.

 

14 comments to Create a PowerPoint chart/graph with 2 Y-axes and 2 chart types

  • Hi Ellen,

    I love this trick and I frequently use combined charts like this.

    The next step I would usually take (when possible) is to adjust the scale on one or both axes to have the same number of divisions on each side. In your example there are nine markers on the primary axis and six on the secondary which causes the tick marks for the secondary axis to stick out at seemingly random places (based on the gridlines) and distracts from the clarity of the chart. I find simpler construction is visually easier to view and process.

    Valary

  • Valary, that’s an excellent point!

  • Sergio Cebrian

    is there a way, to make that 2 charts share same DATA in a powerpoint chart? (but in the same file and not by linking to an external excel file)

    :D

    btw very useful post :D

  • I’m not sure I understand. Would one chart have one piece of the data and another have another piece?

  • Susan Hope

    Exactly what I was looking – very useful!!!!

  • Colin Z

    Wonderful! Thanks for the detailed instructions! This is exactly what I was looking for!

  • eEli

    Great help. Thanks. Is there a way I can put the exact numerical value at the end of each bar?

  • Yes,using a data label. I can’t give you specific instructions without knowing which version of PowerPoint you use, but data labels aren’t hard to find.

  • Eli

    Thanks Ellen! That was so quick and simple once I new what to call it.

  • Tina

    Is there a way to have more than 2 y-axes? In particular, I am trying to use 3 horizontal bars but each bar uses a different scale, the 1st one being percentage, the 2nd being a number range and the 3rd being dollar range… is this even possible in the same graph? Thanks!

  • Tina,
    I don’t think so. Perhaps you can put one on top of the other?

  • Mary Jane

    Thank you! I have been trying to figure this out for days!!!!

  • Mehul

    Thanx a lot for this tip. Has been very helpful

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