Creating a Quick Chart
Chart Wizard takes you through the step-by-step process of building and
customizing a chart.
|Parts of a Basic Chart
||Gridlines help to follow data from the
right side to the Value axis
||Data series-- group of related data points
|Y axis-- Value axis (range of values
represented by the numeric data)
||X axis-- Category axis (how the data is
broken down in the chart)
|Data point-- plotted contents of one of
the cells in the chart. Groups of data points make a data series.
||Chart and axis titles can contain extra
information to help the viewer interpret the chart
||Legend-- used to help viewer associate the
colored lines, bars, slides to specific categories
The Chart Wizard can be reached on the Toolbar or by choosing Insert,
TIP: Choose the range of cells you want to be in
the chart first before you invoke the wizard.
Chart Wizard Steps
- Type of chart. You must pick a chart type and you can pick a chart
sub-type. Pick one and press Preview button to see how your data will
look with that chart type.
- Keep in mind how much data you must chart and how the chart will be
viewed. If you are showing more than one data series you can't use a
pie chart. Pie charts show parts to the whole. If you have several
categories of data you have to use a different type. As far as how it
is viewed, charts for presentations (overhead or computer) need to be
simple. Printed charts can be more complex because the viewer will
have more time to view and study the chart.
- If you highlighted the data range first, the next step is already
done. All you have to do is confirm your previously selected
range. Remember in you range include only the columns and rows that
you want to see plotted. Don't include the spreadsheet title or any
other extra text that you don't want to appear in your chart.
- Now in the next step you can select and format the extra elements such as
the title, legend, gridlines. To view or edit click the tabs and make
- Axes--choose whether to display your Value or Category axis.
Choosing not to display an axis removes the text or numbers that define
the data points along the axis.
- Gridlines--turn off or on. Gridlines enable the reader to
visually follow the data points back to the axis where the values can be
determined. Don't show gridlines in both directions.
Gridlines to the Value (Y) axis are important. Gridlines to both
axis can be distracting.
- Legend--Can turn off and on. Sometimes you display the same
information and don't need the legend also. Only display the
legend if it will provide information (association of color) that is not
easily discerned by the viewer. You can also choose the location
of the legend.
- Data Labels--you can display the labels on the axis by choosing Show
Value. Be careful, adding the labels may make your chart too busy.
- Data Table--you can display the data table by clicking Show Data
Table. Additional choice, Show Legend Key lets you show you legend
information in the table.
TIP: To have data constantly updated when you
move (paste) your chart into other application be sure to use Paste Link (Edit,
Paste Special). This causes the application in which you paste to check
with Excel for any changes each time it opens the file.
The Final step is the choose the output location--As New Sheet or As Object
In current active worksheet. Based on the size requirements of your chart,
make this selection then choose Finish and your chart is created. Placing
a chart on it's own sheet makes it easier to find and resize.
Formatting an Existing Chart
So you have created your chart and finished the Chart Wizard and "Oh,
No!" a mistake. So if you want to make changes you must first
click on the chart to activate it. It is best to click in the white area
outside of the chart and its titles but within the frame. A click in parts
of the chart will activate that part of the chart and not the whole. You
know it is active when you see the small black handles on the edge of the
chart. Also when you Chart is active the Chart menu appears on the Menu
Bar. If you wish to delete the whole chart simply activate it and press
the Delete key.
You can change the colors of any data series or apply a colored background to
your chart or to the Chart Area (the box in which the chart sits).
- With the chart active, click on the element you want to re-color.
- Choose Format, Selected Item (where Item is the name of the
- Click Fill Color icon on the Formatting Toolbar and Choose a color from
the palette or Choose Format, Format Item (where Item is the name of
the selected element). Click the patterns tab to see the color palette.
Choose a color and click OK.
TIP: You can right-click an element to reformat
The point of creating a chart is to make information easier to
understand. If the chart is too small, not easily read, or not legible you
are defeating the purpose of the exercise.
- Too many colors can be confusing. Color choice can make it easier to
read. Match color to background (contrast is better).
- Colors that are too similar can also be a problem. If you use navy
and black the viewer may not be able to tell them colors apart and thus not
see the chart elements.
- Too much text. Don't let labels overlap. Dark backgrounds and
dark text don't mix. Change one of them.
- Too many gridlines. Gridlines are important but too much of a good
thing is confusing. Gridlines to the Value (Y) axis are key (called
major gridlines) but not to the Category (X) axis (called minor
gridlines). Unless your chart is really large, don't use the minor
Resizing the Chart
You can only resize a chart that is an object within a worksheet.
Charts on their own sheet are automatically sized by Excel to fit one printed
page. To resize a chart
- Click the outer edge to get the handles.
- Point to a handle, your mouse becomes a two-headed arrow.
- Drag outward to increase the size, inward to decrease.
- Release mouse button when chart is desired size.
TIP: Use a corner handle to retain the chart's
current horizontal and vertical proportions (aspect ratio).
Reformatting Chart Text
To make changes to chart text
- With chart active, click on the element you want to reformat.
- Use the Font Size button on the formatting toolbar. Click the
drop-down arrow to choose a different font size.
- Change the font by clicking the Font button also on the toolbar.
- You also can change the font and size by right-clicking the element you
want to reformat and choosing Format Item (where Item is the name of
the selected element).
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