Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Chapter 13: Charts and Data Analysis
CHAPTER 13
Charts and Data Analysis
Using Charts to Visualize Data . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 421
Turning Data into a Chart . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 423
Choosing the Right Chart Type . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 429
Linking Worksheet Data to Chart Elements . . . . . . . . . . 439
Advanced Chart Formatting Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 442
Highlighting Trends and Variations in Data . . . . . . . . . . 444
Pictures tell stories. You can drone on and on and on about the meaning of statistics
and the hidden patterns behind seemingly random measurements. Or you can turn
a collection of data into an elegant, information-based graphic and let it do the
talking. Using a well-designed chart, you can communicate a situation or a series of events in
seconds, with only a few well-chosen words required.
Building a visually compelling, information-rich chart from a series of numbers and dates is
part science, part art. The science involves recognizing which series of data on a worksheet
represent the patterns you’re trying to describe. The art is in arranging and fine-tuning
the colors, shading, shapes, labels, and other pieces of your chart so that they tell the story
most effectively.
In this chapter, we look at Excel’s extraordinarily versatile charting engine and explain how
to bring numbers to life in chart form. We also look at conditional formatting—a series
of features that add color, text formatting, and other changes to individual pieces of data
according to conditions you define. And finally, we explain the ins and out of sparklines,
a new feature in Excel 2010 that allows you to add tiny trend lines directly to your source
data to tell a small part of the story without using a full-size chart.
Using Charts to Visualize Data
The process of building a chart doesn’t have to be linear. After you get a few basic design
decisions out of the way, you can revisit and refine the chart’s layout, formatting, and style
options as needed, in any order, trying out alternatives until you’re satisfied. If the iterative
process turns out a collection of settings you’re especially pleased with, or if you want to
share your handiwork with other people, you can save the current settings as a chart
template and apply all those settings with a single click.
The first, most important step in building a great chart is matching the data you want to
chart with the right chart type. As we demonstrate with examples later in this chapter, you
can plot your data using one chart type and then change to a different chart type to tell a
421
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