Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Creating a Basic Chart
Choosing the Right
Kind of Chart
Although you’ll actually select the chart type after
you’ve selected your data, it’s important to decide
on the type of chart you’ll be creating before you
make the selection. Excel gives you six main choices
for chart types (all listed on the Insert menu,
as shown in Figure 11-1), plus an Other Charts
button, which gives you five more types to choose
from. Your six main choices, however, are:
Selecting the Right Source Data
The one tricky part of this very easy process
is selecting the data to be charted. This is
the point in the process with the largest
margin for error, but you can eliminate that
by understanding how charts work. Charts
plot data points, which are grouped in
logical data series, along a horizontal x or “cate-
gory” axis, and a vertical y or “value” axis.
Sales for a given city over the course of a
year would be one series, with each of the
month’s data being the data points. If you’re
tracking multiple cities, as you will in the
examples throughout this chapter, one
quarter or month’s worth of data for all the
cities would be another collection of data
points, making yet another data series.
Figure 11-1 shows the source data and the
resulting Column chart, where six cities’
sales are plotted in the chart, on a quarterly
basis. The quarters are in the chart’s legend,
to help you identify the colored bars and
interpret the chart.
Column: As shown in Figure 11-2, you
can create five different types of Column
charts, ranging from 2D rectangular
columns to 3D pyramid columns. Each of
the five types has at least three subtypes,
with individual columns for each data
point or stacked columns, showing
multiple data points per column. Your choice is
both cosmetic—do you prefer the more
modern 3D look, or do you want a simple,
flat, 2D chart—and logical. The logical
part of the decision rests on choosing
between individual and stacked columns,
and whether or not the columns are on
one row or in multiple rows. If you strive
for real simplicity, with little or no
contemplation required of the person
viewing the chart, go for individual columns
in one row.
So inserting, or adding, a chart to your Excel
worksheet is quite simple, but it does require a
little preparation. First, you need to decide which
data you want to plot in the chart, and at the
same time—because it affects the amount of
data you select—which kind of chart you want to
create. You also want to decide if the chart will
live on its own worksheet or be placed alongside
the data from which it is created. You can always
move a chart after you’ve created it (as I’ll discuss
later in this chapter), so that’s not something
you have to be completely sure of from the start.
Figure 11-2
Choose the kind of
Column chart you
want to create.
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