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Table of contents
Pareto Chart
Preparation of Data
Creating a Pareto Chart
Key Takeaways
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024

Pareto Chart

Author Apoorv Dixit
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Leveraging ChatGPT - GenAI as a Microsoft Data Expert
Prerita Agarwal
Data Specialist @
23 Jul, 2024 @ 01:30 PM


You must have heard about the 80/20 rule, and it is quite popular, isn't it? The 80/20 rule was given by Vilfredo Pareto and is also called the 'Pareto Principle.' According to the Pareto principle, roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes (the "vital few") for many outcomes. 

Pareto chart is an application of the Pareto principle, which is widely used in statistical analysis of decision making. In this article, we will learn about the Pareto chart and the representation of data by Pareto chart in excel.

Pareto Chart

A Pareto chart is a hybrid of a column and a line chart. The columns in the Pareto chart represent the 'Frequencies' in descending order, while the Line represents the cumulative totals of 'Categories.'

Preparation of Data

Consider the following data, where the restaurant complaints and the respective counts are given.

Step 1: First, we will sort the table by the column- count in descending order(Largest to smallest). You can get the sort option in the Home tab; you can also search for sort in 'help' for sort.

The sorted table will look like this:

Step 2: Create a new column cumulative count. It will contain cumulative frequency counts. To calculate the cumulative frequency, select the topmost cell to apply the cumulative frequency formula. You can also do this as for the first row, copy the data as it is since it will be the same. For the next row, write(=) and then select the cell above it and left to it( it will look something like =C2+B3), then press enter.

Then drag the cell by clicking the '+' icon, which appears on the hovering bottom right corner of the cell. The cumulative count for all the rows will be updated for the whole column. This would result in the following table:

Step 3: Sum the column count. It will be the same as the last value of the cumulative count column(here 558).

Step 4: Create a new column Cumulative%. Apply the formula for cumulative % on the first cell, then drag the cell down by hovering over the '+' to fill all the values of the column. 

The table will look as: 

Now the table is ready, and we will use this table to create a Pareto chart.

Creating a Pareto Chart

By creating a Pareto chart of the above data, we can conclude the major complaints that are causing problems. Follow the steps to create a Pareto chart:

Step 1: Select the columns complaint type and count in the table.

Step 2: On the Insert tab, click on the charts group, then select the Histogram symbol.


Step 3: Click Pareto.

The result will look similar to that given below(this Pareto chart will be a combination of line and column chart):

Step 4: Enter the title for the chart by clicking the title and then modifying it.

Step 5: Click the + button on the right side of the chart and click the checkbox next to Data Labels or any other chart element you want to include.


The Pareto chart for restaurant complaints has been created. Here the orange Pareto line shows that 80% of the complaints come from 2 complaint types (Wait time and Food quality). In other words: the Pareto principle applies.

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  1. Why are Pareto charts used?
    Pareto charts are used to identify areas to focus on first in process improvement.
  2. Is a Pareto chart a histogram?
    A Pareto chart is just like a histogram, except the bins are organized from highest frequency to lowest.
  3. What is the advantage of a Pareto diagram over a bar graph?
    Pareto analysis is that it simply helps to identify and determine the main cause, i.e., root causes of defects or problems.
  4. How is a Pareto chart used to improve quality?
    A Pareto chart is a simple tool used in quality improvement that helps organizations identify the most common defects, complaints, or other factors that can be counted and categorized.
  5. What is the 80/20 rule of Pareto charts?
    The 80/20 Rule states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

Key Takeaways

In this article, we have extensively discussed the Pareto Chart. Furthermore, we also learned how to create Pareto charts in excel. We hope that this blog has helped you enhance your knowledge regarding Pareto charts and if you would like to learn more, check out our articles on the Line chart and Pie chart
Check out this problem - Largest Rectangle in Histogram

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