How to Create an Overlapping Bar Chart in Excel

An overlapping bar chart is a type of chart that uses overlapping bars to visualize two values that both correspond to the same category.

This tutorial provides a step-by-step example of how to create the following overlapping bar chart that shows the predicted vs. actual points scored by various basketball players:

Excel overlapping bar chart

Let’s jump in!

Step 1: Enter the Data

First, let’s create the following dataset that shows predicted points vs. actual points of various basketball players:

Step 2: Insert Bar Chart

Next, highlight the cell range A1:C7, then click the Insert tab long the top ribbon, then click the icon called Clustered Bar:

The following horizontal bar chart will appear:

Step 3: Convert Bar Chart to Combo Chart

Next, right click on any bar in the chart and then click Change Series Chart Type:

In the new window that appears, click Combo from the list of charts on the left-hand side.

Then check the box under Secondary Axis next to the Predicted series name:

Once you click OK, the predicted and actual bars will be overlapping for each player in the chart:

Step 4: Adjust Bar Width

Lastly, we need to make the bars for the Actual values wider so that we are able to see both the Actual and Predicted values for each player at the same time.

To do so,  double click on any of the orange bars in the chart.

In the Format Data Series panel that appears on the right side of the screen, adjust the value for the Gap Width to be 60%:

This will cause the orange bars to be wider so that both the Actual and Predicted points values for each player is visible:

Step 5: Customize the Chart (Optional)

Lastly, feel free to customize the colors and the appearance of the chart to make it easier to read:

Excel overlapping bar chart

Additional Resources

The following tutorials explain how to perform other common operations in Excel:

How to Create a Diverging Stacked Bar Chart in Excel
How to Create a Clustered Stacked Bar Chart in Excel
How to Add Total Values to Stacked Bar Chart in Excel

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