Spice Up Excel Chart Data Labels – Show Positive/Negative Trend Arrows

Excel chart data labels are quite boring. While there is not much you can do with these, a bit of excel trickery can add some glamour to it. In this post, I will show you how to show trends in chart labels in a bar chart. Something as shown below:

Excel Chart Data Labels - Show Trend

Show Positive/Negative Trend Arrows in Excel Chart Data Labels

Suppose I have the data as shown below:

Excel Chart Data Labels - Data Set

If I plot 2013 data only, it won’t tell us how much the sales of a product have increased/decreased over the last year. However, I can do this by changing the chart data label to show the YoY change. To do this, we first need to modify our data set a bit.

Excel Chart Data Labels - Data Set with Arrows

Changes made to the data set
  1. Added YoY change in Column D
  2. Added an upward arrow in B11 and downward arrow in C11
    • To do this, go to Insert –> Symbol
    • In the Symbol dialog box, select Arial font (or whatever you are using), and scroll down to find the arrow symbols
  3. In column E, use the following combination of TEXT and IF formula:

When you have the data set in place, create a bar chart using 2013 values. You will get a chart as shown below:

Excel Chart Data Labels with Regular Chart Labels

Now to show the YoY change instead of 2013 values in chart labels, follow the steps below:

For Excel 2013
  1. Click on any of the data label
  2. Right-click and select Format Data Labels
  3. In Label Option, check Value from Cells, click on Select Range and select the cells the new labels (E3:E9 in this case)
    Excel Chart Data Labels - Format Data Labels Excel 2013
For Excel 2010
  1. Select the first data label (click on it twice)
  2. Click on the formula bar and type =
  3. Select E3
  4. This will change the first data label to display the value in E3 (along with the arrow). Now you can do this for all the data labels (a bit of manual labor – but a straight forward method)

That’s it!! You would have your chart ready.

Excel Chart Data Labels with Trends in Chart Labels

Try it yourself.. Download the file
Download File Pic

Related Tutorials:
  • sanjiv daman

    This is a very clever trick. Excel never stops to amaze me.

  • Orlando Mezquita

    This is a cool trick! I’ve used it several times. However, it is very tedious to go over each data label to change it. Do you have some VBA code to change the labels automatically?

    There’s an add-in that you can use for scatterplots (X-Y plots) but I’m not aware of any add-ins for column charts.

  • Can you insert the arrow symbol in Excel 2007? I can’t figure out how to insert the arrow symbols (see dialog in attached picture) but if I copy the arrows from your example file into 2007 it works perfectly!

    • Sumit Bansal

      Hi Chris.. This is weird.. I don’t have 2007 (have 2010 and 2013). Let me get hold of a machine with 2007 and check this out. But if these arrows are not in 2007, the one at the bottom left of this picture should work the same I guess 🙂

      • Moses Dhas

        thanks alot for the tip. i have a bubble chart and would like to add trend up / down arrows against the bubbles to denote if there is a increase or decrease in the value.

  • Suprabhat Kumar

    Hi Sumit, Thanks for the amazing video. I just had a confusion, can you help me in adding the colored up and down arrow in the chart, currently it only black in color.