Ignoring Empty Cells in a Chart

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 3, 2020)

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 Office 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. ...


Adding a Break to Your Document

Want to modify the way your text flows between pages in a document? Word allows you to insert several types of breaks ...

Discover More

Different Ways of Inserting Dates

Word provides a couple of different ways you can insert the current date into a document. Which method should you choose? ...

Discover More

Getting Rid of Empty Rows after Importing

Import data into a worksheet (or paste it there) and you may find that you end up with a group of blank cells you need to ...

Discover More

Program Successfully in Excel! John Walkenbach's name is synonymous with excellence in deciphering complex technical topics. With this comprehensive guide, "Mr. Spreadsheet" shows how to maximize your Excel experience using professional spreadsheet application development tips from his own personal bookshelf. Check out Excel 2013 Power Programming with VBA today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Changing Text in Text Boxes on a Chart

Macros allow you to make changes to virtually anything you can see in Excel. This tip examines how to make changes (even ...

Discover More

Printing a Chart Across Multiple Pages

Wouldn't it be great to have your huge charts print out on multiple pieces of paper that you could then piece together? ...

Discover More

10 Commandments for Excel Charts

Excel makes creating charts easy. Even though it is easy, you still need to exercise prudence in making sure that your ...

Discover More

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.


If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is nine more than 2?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)

This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.