How to Use the Illustrator Graph Tool

Today, there are plenty of dedicated applications for designing graphs, but Adobe Illustrator also has powerful graphing features that are perfect for infographics and other educational projects. In this practical guide, we've shared how to use the Illustrator Graph tool to input data, design custom graph styles, and label your graph so it's easier for everyone to grasp.  

Entering Data into the Graph Tool
Take a look at Illustrator's main toolbar and familiarize yourself with the essential tools. These include the Selection tool (which allows you to select everything in a specific area), the Direct Selection tool (which allows you to select individual objects), the Type tool, the Pen tool (for drawing lines), and the Graph tool. 

First, select the Graph tool (it looks like a bar graph), and then click and draw on your canvas to determine where to place the new graph. At any point in the design process, you can resize the graph to your liking. 

When you let go of the mouse button, a spreadsheet-style box appears so you can enter data points for the graph. These can either be typed in manually, or copied and pasted from a program like Excel. Each column can be used to represent a different subject in your graph, while each row can represent another variable (such as time or income). 

When you've finished entering the data points, click the checkmark icon in the top right corner of the grid to generate your graph. By default, it will look like a simple bar graph, but this is easy to change.  

Customizing the Graph
To change any aspect of your graph, just right-click on it to show a submenu of different options. First, you can change the graph style by selecting "Type". A new dialog box will appear with nine different graph types to choose from, including line graphs, pie graphs, and scatter graphs. In addition, there are settings like "Add Legend Across Top" and "Add Drop Shadow" to customize the style even further. When you're happy with the changes, click OK. 

To add your own custom flourishes, right-click on the graph again and choose "Ungroup". This allows you to edit any element of the graph individually, including colors, fonts, text size, and more. 

Using the Type Tool for Annotations
Finally, select the Type tool (it looks like the letter T) to add text anywhere on your graph. Just click anywhere and Illustrator will create a new text prompt for you to type in. From there, you can adjust the font, text size, and color. 

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