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Make funky and creative hand-drawn chart in Excel – Quick tutorial



Charts are great way to tell story about what is going on in your business. But they also feel a bit too impersonal and meh. How about adding your personality to them? I don’t mean making them tall, dark and pretty. I mean using hand-drawing style to make them pop out. Something like this example of hand-drawn chart:

hand-drawn chart in Excel - example

The best thing is, You don’t need to actually draw these charts by hand. We can use a powerful charting trick to get these charts automatically generated (and linked) to your data. Interested? Read on to learn how to create hand-drawn charts in Excel.

Hand-drawn charts – Set up your data

Let’s say you have some data like this:

data for hand drawn charts

Add 2 more columns so that you can split the data in to Head & Rest like this:

Split data in to head and tail using simple formulas


Make a regular stacked column chart from your data

Select head & rest columns and insert a normal stacked column chart. Make sure head is on top of rest. You will get this:

create a normal stacked column chart from your data

Time to get drawing – create head & body images

Using your favorite drawing program (MS Paint / Power Point / Paint.Net or good old Excel itself), make a column drawing. Use the free form scribble tool from Insert > Shape to create these drawings in Excel or Power Point. See this demo:

How to create a hand-drawn column or bar in Excel?

How to make a hand-drawing bar or column using free form tools


Crop and split the drawing in to head & rest:

Once you made the drawing, paste it in to Excel as an image. Using Format ribbon, crop this in to head & tail as shown below:

create and crop the hand drawing images

Replace the column fill with images now – Ctrl+C Ctrl+V time…

Time to use the most important shortcuts in the world. CTRL+C and CTRL+V.

  1. Copy the head image from your drawing (CTRL+C)
  2. Select head series in the chart
  3. Paste (CTRL+V)

Bonus tip: Use images and shapes in your charts to prettify them

That is all. Your hand-drawn chart is ready. Share it with a colleague or boss and see them drool.

hand-drawn chart in Excel - example

More hand-drawn inspiration for you…

Here are few more examples of what you could achieve with this technique.

Hand-drawn bar chart:

hand-drawn bar chart

Hand-drawn line chart:

more hand-drawn charts - line graph

Caution: Don’t go overboard

I am a big fan of story telling with charts. While I appreciate the flexibility and possibilities Excel (and other tools like Power BI) offers, I strongly recommend that you do not go overboard with formatting charts. When used in moderation (or for a particular situation) these charts can evoke a laugh, thought or both. But when used in excess or out-of-place these can look silly. You have been warned.

See the entire thing in 90 seconds

Check out this recipe style video (with peppy background score) to re-cap all the key steps for creating hand-drawn charts.

You can also watch this on Chandoo.org YouTube Channel.

Download hand-drawn charts template

Click here to download free template with a few charts. Paste your data to get the charts or use the images elsewhere.

More creative charting techniques for you…

If you liked this hand-drawn chart, you will love below examples too:

Budget vs. Actual chart with variance & emotion:

Salary & Performance in a jitter plot

Salary and performance - jitter plot

Joy plot in Excel

Joy plot in Excel

Twisted column charts (E90E50 Charts)


Tried your hand at hand-drawn charts?

Excuse the pun. How did it go? Did it draw crowd’s attention? Share your story and examples in the comments.


Share this tip with your colleagues

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6 Responses to “Make funky and creative hand-drawn chart in Excel – Quick tutorial”

  1. Asel says:

    Hello Chandoo,

    Could you please tell me what software you use to make the short videos that you embed directly in your text?

    Thanks in advance

  2. Virendra Singh says:

    Hi Chandoo

    Good fun trying these hand drawn charts.


  3. Andrew says:

    Hey Chandoo, this was brilliant. Just the thing to inject some levity into dry presentations. Keep up the fantastic work. 🙂

  4. Jozef Melichar says:

    Thank you for perfect hints. I wanted to try this for a long time and now was the opportunity. I used hand-drawn charts for kind of a creative visualized resume in Excel.

    • Deepak says:

      looking more specifically hand drawing charts for standard MS charts in excel ot think cell etc.., looking for charts to depict data points like - trends, column charts, stack charts, pie charts etc...

      Do you have some options which are hand drawing for charts/graphics to visualise data points.

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