Here is a free, practical tool for creating charts.
ChartGo.com provides an incredibly easy to use web-based tool for creating charts, including bar, pie, line and area charts. You can quickly create a chart, save it, and add it to a course, website or blog. They also provide numerous avenues of sharing your chart (URL, e-mail link to chart, social bookmarking, Twitter, etc.).
If you want something more sophisticated, stick with Excel. If you want something you can create in a matter of minutes, this is the tool for you. Here is an example of a chart I made.