Combination Clustered and Stacked Column Chart in Excel

While Excel does not have a built-in clustered and stacked chart, one can be created by using a combo chart and a secondary axis.

For context, clustered charts, also known as grouped charts, compare multiple data series grouped by a common category. As an example, a clustered chart may show multiple columns (vertical) or bars (horizontal) next to each other comparing forecast vs. actual spend (series) in any given month (category).

Alternatively, stacked charts compare individual segments or component parts within an individual total column or bar, e.g., actual spend within a given month segmented by spend type.

In this example, the combination clustered and stacked column chart compares forecast vs. actual spend within a given month (clustered column); actual spend is further segmented by spend type (stacked column).

To help visualize, let’s start with a screenshot of the expected result.

Excel – Clustered Column Chart With Stacked Column
Excel – Clustered Column Chart With Stacked Column

Step 1 – Organize The Data

There are actually several approaches to create a combined clustered and stacked chart in Excel. The approach demonstrated in this example keeps the underlying source data structured in a readable format. The alternate approach involves structuring the data with many extra blank cells sprinkled throughout the data. In my opinion, that approach is more difficult and it renders the underlying data unreadable and largely unusable for other purposes.

Our data is structured with the “Forecast” and “Total” actual spend as rows (series) and the months as columns (categories). The “Total” actual spend is further detailed into separate rows (series) for each spend type, e.g., “Actual – Payroll”, “Actual – Facilities”, “Actual – Telecom”, and “Actual – External”. The “Total” row is simply an aggregate of those individual spend type actual values within a given month.

The values are formatted using a custom number format (referenced below) to display in millions. The underlying cell value is 1,000,000 but Excel displays the value as 1.0.

#,##0.0,,;[Red](#,##0.0,,)
Excel – Data Table
Excel – Data Table

Step 2 – Add Helper Data

Next we will add two empty rows (series) below our data. Label these “Spacer 1” and “Spacer 2” and change the font color to white to hide them (assuming the sheet background color is white). These spacer rows are used in a later step to assist with controlling the gap and overlap between columns.

We also add two formulas to calculate the minimum and maximum values of the data series. These values are used in a later step to set the bounds for the Primary and Secondary Axes.

=MIN($B$2:$M$3)
=MAX($B$2:$M$3)
Excel – Adjusted Data Table
Excel – Adjusted Data Table

Step 3 – Create a Clustered Column Chart

Select all of the source data including the spacer rows but excluding the minimum and maximum helper data. On the Insert ribbon, in the Charts section, click the Clustered Column button to insert a new chart.

Excel – Source Data Selection
Excel – Source Data Selection

The resulting chart is displayed with a separate column for each data series in our table. These columns are grouped by month along the horizontal axis.

Excel – Clustered Column Chart
Excel – Clustered Column Chart

Step 4 – Change Chart Types

Click on the chart. In the Chart Design ribbon, click the Change Chart Type. The Change Chart Type dialog box opens. Click the All Charts tab and select Combo.

Each of the data series is displayed with an option to change its Chart Type and Axis. The “Forecast”, “Spacer 1”, and “Spacer 2” data series should have a Chart Type of Clustered Column and Secondary Axis should remain unchecked. The “Actual – Payroll”, “Actual – Facilities”, “Actual – Telecom”, and “Actual – External” data series should have a Chart Type of Stacked Column and Secondary Axis should be checked. The “Total” data series should be changed to Line and Secondary Axis should be checked.

Excel – Change Chart Type
Excel – Change Chart Type
Excel – Combo Chart
Excel – Combo Chart

Step 5 – Adjust the Series Overlap and Gap Width

In the chart, click the “Forecast” data series column. In the Format ribbon, click Format Selection. In the Series Options, adjust the Series Overlap and Gap Width sliders so that the “Forecast” data series does not overlap with the stacked column. In this example, I set both sliders to 0% which resulted in no overlap and a slight gap in between. Depending on your particular data set, these values may require fine tuning.

Excel – Format Data Series Gap Width and Series Overlap
Excel – Format Data Series Gap Width and Series Overlap
Excel – Combo Chart With Adjusted Gap Width and Series Overlap
Excel – Combo Chart With Adjusted Gap Width and Series Overlap

Step 6 – Add Data Labels

For each data series in the chart, click on its column, stacked segment, or line and click Add Data Labels. For the “Total” line, click Format Data Labels and change the Label Position to Above.

Excel – Adjusted Combo Chart With Data Labels
Excel – Adjusted Combo Chart With Data Labels

Step 7 – Adjust Axis Bounds

Depending on the data series, the Primary and Secondary Axes may be misaligned due to differing minimum and maximum bounds. In our example, the upper bound on the Primary Axis is 1.2 while the upper bound on the Secondary Axis is 1.4. We’ll need to align the scales so that the chart columns are visually comparable.

Click on the chart. In the Chart Design ribbon, click Select Data. In the Legend Entries (Series) section, click the Add button. In Series name, click the cell containing the “Primary Scale” header. In the Series values, select the cells containing the corresponding minimum and maximum values.

Excel – Add Primary Scale Series
Excel – Add Primary Scale Series

Repeat the same process for the “Secondary Scale” series.

Excel – Add Secondary Scale Series
Excel – Add Secondary Scale Series

Click on the chart. In the Chart Design ribbon, click the Change Chart Type. The Change Chart Type dialog box opens.

We now see the two new data series in the list. Set the “Primary Scale” series to a Chart Type of Line and Secondary Axis should remain unchecked. Set the “Secondary Scale” series to a Chart Type of Line and Secondary Axis should be checked.

Excel – Change Chart Type Scale Axis
Excel – Change Chart Type Scale Axis

Both the minimum and maximum bounds for the Primary and Secondary Axes are now aligned at 1.4.

Excel – Adjusted Combo Chart With Aligned Scales
Excel – Adjusted Combo Chart With Aligned Scales

Step 8 – Formatting and Clean-up

At this point, there are several extra chart elements that need to be removed or hidden.

In the Legend, click the label for “Spacer 1” so that it alone is highlighted and press delete to remove it. Repeat the same process for “Spacer 2”, “Total”, “Primary Scale”, and “Secondary Scale” legend entries.

Since the Primary and Secondary Axes are now the same, we can also remove the Secondary Axis labels. Click the Secondary Axis labels and press delete to remove it.

We still have some extra chart lines corresponding to the “Total”, the “Primary Scale”, and the “Secondary Scale”. Starting with the “Total” line, click the data series in the chart. In the Format ribbon, click Format Selection. On the Fill & Line options, select No line.

Repeat the same process for the “Primary Scale” data series line and the “Secondary Scale” data series line.

Change the title to better describe the chart.

Result

We now have a combined clustered and stacked column chart with totals above the stacked column. Our data table remains intact and readable while the helper data and chart elements are hidden from casual viewers. The aggregate total of the stacked column is also displayed above the column.

Excel – Clustered Column Chart With Stacked Column and Data Table
Excel – Clustered Column Chart With Stacked Column and Data Table

12 thoughts on “Combination Clustered and Stacked Column Chart in Excel”

  1. Hi! How can we adjust the order of the clustered columns if we need the forecast column is showing up on the left side on the actuals column instead of right side of actuals column?

    Reply
    • Click on the chart. On the Chart Design ribbon click Select Data. The Select Data Source dialog box is displayed. Highlight the Forecast entry in the Legend Entries (Series) list and use the up or down arrow buttons to move the entry above or below all of the Actual entries. Moving the Forecast entry above all of the Actual entries should place the column to the left while moving it below the Actual entries should place the column to the right.

      Reply
  2. Great explanation!
    Is it possible to detail the forecast series by the same spend types as the actual so that it also shows as a stacked column?

    Reply
  3. Thank you very much for this, I learned a lot! I was having trouble getting rid of the Min/Max line that got created. I found I could just delete it rather than click “no line” (it wouldn’t go away, it just changed color), but then the chart was a bit erratic if major changes were made. One thing I found is that to get the same scale on the right, as I had on the left, I could just manually edit the upper and lower limits to mimic the other side, then delete the axis label. Isn’t that easier than adding a data set of mins and max’s (times two) and then hiding them. Anyway, I again thank you.

    Reply
  4. Fantastic tutorial – Thanks! Is it possible to center the axis label beneath the paired columns as opposed to leaving the axis label centered under the single stacked column? I.e. in your final example, that would have the “Jan” label slightly under the Clustered column and slightly under the Stacked column

    Reply
    • No, not that I’ve found in an automatic way and manually adding text boxes is too cumbersome. This is due to the spacer rows which create the visual blank space between clusters on the chart. If you add tick marks to the axis, you will see that the axis labels are actually centered between the ticks but the blank spacers throw off the visual centering.

      Reply

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