Using Graph Tools in Adobe Illustrator: Part 1

For Adobe Illustrator CS6 & CC

When producing info-graphics in Adobe Illustrator, the graph tools are handy when generating simple charts and graphs. Illustrator is capable of generating Column Graphs, Stacked Column Graphs, Bar Graphs, Stacked Bar Graphs, Line Graphs, Area Graphs, Scatterplots, Pie Chart and Radar Charts.  In this guide series, we will go through each of these chart types and how you can customise them.


Once you’ve selected a graph tool, you can either drag out the size with the mouse or you can click onto the canvas and write the size.

You’ll then be presented with a mini-spreadsheet window, where you can manually enter in the data or you can Import data (first button option on left).  Hitting Enter or the Apply button (the tick) will generate the chart from the data.  However, every time you change the data you will need to do this in order to update the chart image.

Column & Bar Graph Tool

Only difference here between these two tools is that one produces vertical bars (column graph tool) while the other produces horizontal bars (bar graph tool).

IllustratorHere in the above Column Graph, you have categories assigned to each bar, along with a key for each category shade.

If you use the Transpose row/column button, you can flip the data from being row-based to column based.  Applying this new data will change the graph to have the category names on the bottom.  All the bars will be the same colour, but this isn’t a problem as they can be easily changed later on.


Assigning just one category/variable and having all the values in one column can be used to create a histogram.

Grouped Column & Bar Graphs

Putting the data into two columns will produce a grouped bar/column graph.

Editing the Graph

Now to edit the graph, you will need to close the spreadsheet window.  While, the graph is selected, go Object > Ungroup (or press Shift + Ctrl/Cmd + G) where you will then be prompted by a warning window.  Press Yes:

Deselect the graph, then select the Direct Selection Tool.  Click onto the individual bars, where you can now edit the swatch and stroke colours.  Here are the results I’ve produced below:

Not only  the bars now fully free for you to customise, but so is the entire graph.  Play around and explore how you can the rest of the graph, like the font, font colour and size of the category names or value scale on the y-axis.  Other examples include: changing bar widths, removing tick marks and changing the thickness of the axis lines.

In the next part we will go into stacked bar graphs and scatter graphs.

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