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Add Total Value Labels to Stacked Bar Chart in Excel (Easy)

By Chris Newman •  Updated: 10/31/22 •  7 min read
How to add Stacked Bar Totals in Excel Charts.

Stacked Bar Charts Missing Total Labels In Excel

Unfortunately, Microsoft Excel cannot insert data labels at the top of vertical or horizontal stacked bar charts. Interestingly, Microsoft decided not to incorporate this capability as it is a seemingly basic charting need while using stacked bar charts.

While resolving this missing feature has been asked of Microsoft (please upvote!) by the customer base, there does not appear to be any momentum yet to add it to Microsoft Excel by the developers.

Luckily, we can use some creativity to add a "totaling" chart series and make it look like the chart has labels indicating the net value of the stacked bar.

An example of chart total labels in Excel.

In this article, I’m going to show you how to build total labels for your stacked bar charts similar to the image above. Let’s walk through the steps to do this in Excel.

Example Data

Before we go further, I just wanted to show you the raw chart data being used in this Stacked Bar Chart example. The data breaks up the company’s revenue into three categories with an overall total at the very bottom.

I do provide a download link at the end of this article with the exact Excel spreadsheet file I created for this tutorial. Feel free to download the file and follow along if that helps you learn.

Example of a stacked bar chart data in Excel.

Add Data Series For Total Label

To get the appearance of total labels for our chart, we are actually going to create an invisible chart series. We want the values of this chart series to be very small in relation to your actual chart data so the vertical height of your bars does not get impacted (reduced in size).

Since my data is in whole numbers, I’m going to use a 0.1 value for each month.

Example of stacked bar chart data with a total label.

After you have set up the data for your chart series, you want to link the data up to your chart.

Right-click on your chart and in the menu, select the Select Data menu item.

Right click menu in Excel to select data.

In the Select Data Source dialog box, click the Add button to create a new chart series.

Select Data Source dialog box, and how to create a new chart series.

Once you see the Edit Series range selector appear, select the data for your label series.

Add new series in Excel.

I would also recommend naming your chart series “Total Label” so you know the purpose of the additional chart series.

You’ll also want to ensure that the chart series is the very last series in the Legend Entries list box. This means it will be the last data point to be charted and will reside at the top of the bars.

Total Label Chart Series

Hit the OK button and you should see the new chart series appear at the top of the bars.

For the Total Labels series, we want to override the values of the data labels.

To do this, you will need to go into the Format Data Labels Pane by right-clicking one of the chart data labels associated with the Total Labels series and selecting Format Data Labels from the menu.

First, we will reposition the labels by changing the Label Position to Inside Base.

Excel format data labels

Next, uncheck all the Label Contains options except for Value From Cells.

Click the Select Range button and select the cell range that contains the total values for your stacked bar chart.

Excel select range for data labels.

After you have confirmed your selection, you should see the label values change to the total bar values in the Excel chart.

Format Changes To Your Stacked Bar Chart

Remove The Chart Series Fill Color

You want to make the Total Label chart series appear invisible as it really isn’t holding data that should be charted.

To do this, click on the chart series and ensure the fill color is set to No Fill. You may need to zoom in on your Excel spreadsheet to select it due to its small size.

Excel no fill bar chart series

Remove The Legend Item

If you have a legend displayed for your chart, you will want to ensure the legend item for your Total Label series does not appear. To remove it, simply select the individual legend item and hit the Delete key on your keyboard.

Delete legend item label in Excel.

My Chart Formatting Recommendations

  1. De-emphasize Labels- Your stacked bar data labels should be a gray or white color depending on the color of each bar in your chart. I also like to ensure the labels are not bold and italicize them. Utilizing a thinner/skinner version of the same font you are using is also something you could incorporate.
  2. Emphasize Total Labels - Your total labels should be black or dark grey and also bolded. I like to ensure my total labels are at least 3 points larger than the other data labels.
  3. Bar Width - Make sure your bars are not skinner than the width of your data labels.

Control Vertical Spacing Of The Total Labels

If you want to increase the separation between your total labels and the stacked bars, you can modify your chart by adding a Label Spacer chart series before the Total Label series.

Label spacer stacked bar chart in Excel.

You’ll notice from the above graphic, that the Label Spacer chart series sits right below the Total Label series and is also invisible (no fill color).

You might be thinking, why not just increase the Total Label series value and skip the creation of an extra chart series? Well, I originally tried that and it ended up compressing the chart quite a bit due to how the labels are positioned within each bar segment.

Creating a separate chart series, allows you to nudge the labels up further without compressing the chart bars within the Chart Area boundary.

Label Spacer Stacked Bar Chart Compared in Excel.

Be sure to also remove the legend item associated with the Label Spacer chart series if you choose to add this feature to your chart.

Download Example Excel File

If you would like to get a copy of the Excel file I used throughout this article, feel free to directly download the spreadsheet by clicking the download button below.

Keep Learning

Chris Newman

Chris Newman

Chris is a finance professional and Excel MVP recognized by Microsoft since 2016. With his expertise, he founded TheSpreadsheetGuru blog to help fellow Excel users, where he shares his vast creative solutions & expertise. In addition, he has developed over 7 widely-used Excel Add-ins that have been embraced by individuals and companies worldwide.