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Create a Pareto Chart with Plotly and Excel

A Step-by-Step Guide to Create a Pareto Chart

Step 1

About a Pareto Chart

A Pareto chart combines a bar and line chart. The Pareto principle states that, 'for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.' In this example, we will see that 80% of complaints come from 20% of the complaint types.

Pareto principle

Step 2

Upload your Excel data to Plotly's grid

Open the data file for this tutorial in Excel. You can download the file here in CSV format

Excel view

Step 3

Head to Plotly

Head to Plotly's Workspace and sign into your free Plotly account. Go to 'Import,' click 'Upload a file,' then choose your Excel file to upload. Your Excel file will now open in Plotly's grid. For more about Plotly's grid, see this tutorial

Import data

Step 4

Creating Your Chart

Once you've loaded the data in Plotly, label your columns like we did below. You'll have complaint type on the x axis data and complaint count and cumulative percentage on the y axis data. Then, select 'Line plots' from the CHOOSE PLOT TYPE menu. When you're finished, click on the blue 'LINE PLOT' button in the sidebar.


Your plot would initially look something like this.


Remember, a Pareto chart combines a bar and line chart. The complaint count will be the 'bar' portion of the chart and the cumulative percentage will be the 'line' portion of the chart. Let's set the complaint count trace (Col2) to 'Bar.' Head to the 'Traces' menu and select 'Bar' as type.


Take a moment to resize your plot to something less wide. A width of 800 and a height of 600 seems reasonable. Head to the layout menu to do this.


Next, we'll add a second y-axis for the other trace (Col3). To do this, head to the 'Traces' menu then to 'New Axis/Subplot.' Set your 'New Y' to 'Right.'

Second axis

Your plot should now look something like this.


Now, we'll clean up the grid lines. Go to the 'Axes' menu, then select 'Y Axis 2' in the drop down menu. Set 'Grid lines' to off.

Grid lines

Step 5

Finalizing Your Graph

Your graph should now look something like this.


Head to the 'Traces' menu and then the 'Style' tab to set the trace color to your liking. You can title your graph and axes like we did. You can add 'Tick Suffixes' to 'Y Axis 2' by heading to the 'Axes' menu, then the 'Labels' menu within.


Here's our finished graph.


You can download your finished Plotly graph to embed in your Excel workbook. We also recommend including the Plotly link to the graph inside your Excel workbook for easy access to the interactive Plotly version. Get the link to your graph by clicking the 'Share' button. Download an image of your Plotly graph by clicking EXPORT on the toolbar.


To add the Excel file to your workbook, click where you want to insert the picture inside Excel. On the INSERT tab inside Excel, in the ILLUSTRATIONS group, click PICTURE. Locate the Plotly graph image that you downloaded and then double-click it. Notice that we also copy-pasted the Plotly graph link in a cell for easy access to the interactive Plotly version.

Excel workbook

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