How to Create Interactive Graphs and Graphs on Mac Using Numbers

By | April 2, 2022

Charts and graphs are fantastic tools for displaying data. They are easy to read, easy to understand and provide a clear visual representation of information.

What’s even better than the usual static charts and graphs are the ones you can interact with. This allows you to display the data differently and gives you the opportunity to focus on a particular section more easily.

Numbers for Mac offers features for creating interactive charts and graphs and here’s how to use them.


What is Interactive Graph in Numbers

In short, interactive charts in Numbers are charts that allow you to show data in stages. You can use sliders or buttons to move through your data elements. For example, you can view sales by product per month and use the slider to view each month.

This allows you to present your data in an easy-to-understand way and focus more on each stage.

1: Fill Your Data

Before you can create interactive charts in Numbers, you need your data. Complete your spreadsheet and for best results use column and row headers as these will help your data display correctly on the chart. Once you’ve finished setting up the data, the rest is easy.

2: Create Your Interactive Chart

Select your data table by clicking the small circle at the top left of the sheet. Then, click Chart > Interactive from the toolbar. You’ll see four different chart types (just like in Microsoft Excel too).

  • Vertical column chart: This chart type works well for comparing values ​​in a single category.
  • Horizontal bar chart: As above, this chart type also works well for comparisons of values ​​within a single category.
  • Scatter chart: This chart type is great for comparisons between pairs of values ​​in a data series.
  • Bubble chart: This type of chart is great for comparisons between three data points in a series.

As you view these four options, you can use the arrows to browse for additional styles, or color schemes, for each. Click the chart you want to use and it will fill your sheet with your data.

3: Customize Your Chart

After creating a chart, you have many options to modify it. The easiest way to do this is with a sidebar so you can see your options and changes at the same time. If your sidebar is closed, click Format from the top right to open it.

Now, select your chart and then the Chart tab in the sidebar. You’ll also see tabs for Axis, Series, and Arrange which you can use for different types of charts and data series. As an example, we’ll review the Charts tab and vertical column and horizontal bar charts.

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Customization Options

Starting at the top of the sidebar, you have these options:

  • Chart Styles: These are the same color scheme options you saw when you first selected your interactive chart.
  • Chart Options: You can check the checkboxes to use Title, Legend, Border, and Hidden Data.
  • Chart Font: You can change the font style, format, size and color.
  • Interactive Charts: Choose between using a slider with buttons or just buttons to move through your data. You can also select Below or Above for the Data Set Name location.
  • Rounded Angle: You can use the slider to adjust the roundness of the rod angle.
  • Gap: Adjust the percentage for the gap between bars and sets.
  • Background & Border Style: You can use a color, gradient, or image as a background.
  • Chart Type: Select a different chart type to use. This is a quick and easy way to see how your data will display using other chart types.

If you use a scatter or bubble chart, you’ll notice that some of these options change. For example, you won’t have the Rounded Corners feature because you won’t have bars with corners.

With a few tweaks, you can change the complete look of your chart. This is a great way to match the data you present to your business, audience, or industry. Look at how two graphs of the same type with the same data can look very different.

4: Edit Your Data Reference

When you change the data in your table, the chart is automatically updated to reflect that change. You can also make adjustments by clicking on the chart and then the Edit Data References button that displays.

Deleting Data Series

One of the advantages of using buttons to edit your data is that you can select the exact elements you want to change in your chart. For example, you might want to remove certain data from a chart but not from your table.

  • Select the chart and click Edit Data References.
  • Go to your table and click the arrow for the column you want to delete.
  • Click Delete Series.

You’ll soon see the data is removed from the chart and the columns in your table are no longer highlighted as part of the chart. However, your data is still in your table.

Reverse Data

Another thing you can do is plot the rows as series instead of columns or vice versa.

  • Select the chart and click Edit Data References.
  • Go to your table and click the arrow for the column.
  • Click Plot Rows as Series.

You can see in our example that instead of looking at each month (its initial row header), you can now see each product (starting column header) in our chart. Basically, the two series are swapped. This allows you to change the way you want to display your data very quickly, without hassle, and without creating new charts.


When you’re done editing your data references, click the Done button at the bottom of the Numbers window.

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