Ignoring Empty Cells in a Chart

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated October 3, 2020)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365


Jos has a worksheet that has a table showing data for each month of the year. Data is entered in the table as the year progresses, so later months in the year may not show any data. He creates a chart based on the entire table, and Excel charts the empty months as zero values. Jos wonders if there is a way to get Excel to simply ignore or (better still) not chart the empty months as zeros.

There are two easy ways you can deal with this issue. The first involves specifying what Excel does with empty cells in the source data. This was actually covered in this ExcelTip: Controlling the Plotting of Empty Cells.

There is an even easier way to get what you want, and it is especially handy for the situation that Jos is facing. The data that Jos is charting is relatively straightforward, with information in the table being filled from left to right. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. Sample data to be plotted.

It doesn't really matter if this data is put together with formulas or with static values. If you don't want the empty columns (September through December) to show up in your chart, just select those columns and hide them. Excel immediately redraws the chart to exclude those columns. When you are ready to fill in the data for a given month, just unhide that column and enter the data. Excel redraws the chart to include just the visible months.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (13784) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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