Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Creating Charts
Charting 101
To create a chart, Excel needs to translate your numbers into a graphical
representation. The process of drawing numbers on a graph is called plotting . Before you plot
your information on a chart, you should make sure your data’s laid out properly.
Here are some tips:
• Structure your data in a simple grid of rows and columns.
• Don’t include blank cells between rows or columns.
• Include titles, if you’d like them to appear in your chart. You can use category
titles for each column of data (placed in the first row, atop each column) and an
overall chart title (placed just above the category-title row).
Tip: You can also label each row by placing titles in the far-left column, if it makes sense. If you’re
comparing the sales numbers for different products, list the name of each product in the first column on the
left, with the sales figures in the following columns.
If you follow these guidelines, you can expect to create the sort of chart shown in
Figure 19-1.
The value axis (y-axis)
Figure 19-1:
This worksheet shows
a table of data and a
simple column chart
based on Excel’s
standard chart settings.
Nothing fancy, but it
gets the job done.
The category axis (x-axis)
To create the chart in Figure 19-1, Excel performs a few straightforward steps (you’ll
learn the specifics of how to actually create this chart in the next section). First, it
extracts the text for the chart title from cell A1. Next, it examines the range of data
(from $14,000 to $64,000) and uses it to set the value—or Y-axis—scale. You’ll
notice that the scale starts at $0, and stretches up to $80,000 in order to give your data
a little room to breathe. (You could configure these numbers manually, but Excel
automatically makes common-sense guesses like these by looking at the data you’re
 
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