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Creating Venn Diagrams with Excel Data

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Creating Venn Diagrams with Excel Data.

Stuart wonders if there is a way to create Venn diagrams in Excel. He couldn't find it as a charting option in the program, but wondered if there was a possible workaround so that the Venn diagram works directly off data within a worksheet.

A Venn diagram is a type of chart that is often used in set theory—it shows different sets of data and how they relate to each other through intersecting portions of circles. A quick check in the types of charts that Excel can create shows Stuart is correct—there is no choice for creating a Venn diagram.

You can, however, approximate a Venn diagram using the tools that Excel provides. If you aren't too interested in accuracy, you can use the drawing tools in the program to draw circles, size and format them the way you want, and then overlap them as appropriate. You can then add text to the drawing to label the different parts of the diagram.

A more accurate representation can be gained by using a bubble chart (one of the chart types that Excel does provide) to graph the areas. All you need to do is calculate the data points that represent the center of each circle and that circle's size. For instance, you might end up with something like this for three circles in the diagram:

X-axis Y-axis Size
5.00 7.00 90
6.45 5.50 120
5.00 5.00 77

How you get your data into a format that is appropriate for a bubble chart depends (of course) on the characteristics of your data.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (10843) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Creating Venn Diagrams with Excel Data.

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