Working with Charts in Apache POI

Apache POI is a powerful Java library that allows you to create and manipulate Excel files. One of the key features of Excel is its ability to create charts and graphs to visualize data. With Apache POI, you can programmatically generate charts in your Excel files, customize their appearance, and populate them with data. This tutorial will guide you through the steps of working with charts using Apache POI.

Example Code

Let's start with a simple example that demonstrates how to create a bar chart using Apache POI:

import org.apache.poi.xssf.usermodel.*;

public class ChartExample {
  public static void main(String[] args) throws Exception {
    Workbook workbook = new XSSFWorkbook();
    Sheet sheet = workbook.createSheet("Sheet1");
    // Create a data source for the chart
    Row headerRow = sheet.createRow(0);
    Cell headerCell1 = headerRow.createCell(0);
    Cell headerCell2 = headerRow.createCell(1);
    Row dataRow1 = sheet.createRow(1);
    Cell dataCell1 = dataRow1.createCell(0);
    Cell dataCell2 = dataRow1.createCell(1);
    Row dataRow2 = sheet.createRow(2);
    Cell dataCell3 = dataRow2.createCell(0);
    Cell dataCell4 = dataRow2.createCell(1);
    // Create a chart
    Drawing drawing = sheet.createDrawingPatriarch();
    ClientAnchor anchor = drawing.createAnchor(0, 0, 0, 0, 4, 0, 10, 10);
    Chart chart = drawing.createChart(anchor);
    ChartLegend legend = chart.getOrCreateLegend();
    BarChartData data = new XDDFBarChartData(chart.getCTChart());
    XDDFCategoryAxis categoryAxis = data.getCategoryAxis();
    XDDFValueAxis valueAxis = data.getValueAxis();
    XDDFBarChartData.Series series = data.addSeries(categoryAxis, valueAxis);
    series.setTitle(sheet.getRow(0).getCell(1).getStringCellValue(), null);
    series.setValues(sheet.getRow(1).getCell(1).getSheet().createSheetName(), new CellRangeAddress(1, 2, 1, 1));
    // Save the workbook to a file
    FileOutputStream fileOut = new FileOutputStream("output.xlsx");

Step-by-Step Tutorial

  1. Create a Workbook object, such as XSSFWorkbook for XLSX files or HSSFWorkbook for XLS files.
  2. Create a Sheet object within the workbook.
  3. Populate the sheet with data that will be used for the chart.
  4. Create a Drawing object and a ClientAnchor to position the chart within the sheet.
  5. Create a Chart object using the Drawing object and ClientAnchor.
  6. Create chart data and specify the category and value axes.
  7. Add series to the chart data, providing the data range and series title.
  8. Plot the chart using the chart data.
  9. Save the workbook to a file.

Common Mistakes

  • Not setting the data range correctly, resulting in incorrect or missing data in the chart.
  • Forgetting to plot the chart using the chart data, causing the chart to be empty.
  • Applying incorrect chart types or not setting the appropriate chart properties, leading to undesired chart appearance.
  • Not saving and closing the workbook properly, resulting in corrupted or incomplete files.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Can I customize the appearance of the chart, such as colors, fonts, and labels?

    Yes, Apache POI provides methods to customize various aspects of the chart, including chart title, axis labels, data labels, chart colors, and more.

  2. Can I create different types of charts, such as line charts, pie charts, or scatter plots?

    Yes, Apache POI supports a wide range of chart types. You can create line charts, pie charts, scatter plots, bar charts, and more.

  3. Can I add multiple series to a single chart?

    Yes, you can add multiple series to a chart to compare different sets of data.

  4. Can I create interactive charts with data-driven features?

    No, Apache POI focuses on generating static charts. For interactive or data-driven features, you may consider using other libraries or tools.

  5. Can I read and modify existing charts in an Excel file using Apache POI?

    Yes, Apache POI provides APIs to read and modify existing charts in an Excel file, allowing you to update chart data, titles, labels, and other properties.


In this tutorial, we have learned how to work with charts in Apache POI. We explored an example code snippet, explained the step-by-step process, discussed common mistakes, and provided answers to frequently asked questions. Now you have the knowledge to create and customize charts in your Excel files programmatically using Apache POI.