Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Adding a Legend
Adding a Legend
Titles help explain a chart’s overall purpose. Usually, titles indicate what a chart is
comparing or analyzing. You may add a chart title like “Patio Furniture Sales” and
the axis labels “Gross Revenue” and “Month of Sale” to a chart that shows how patio
furniture sales pick up in the summertime. However, the category labels don’t help
you single out important data. They also don’t let you point out multiple series (like
the sales results in two different stores). You can fix this problem by adding
additional labels or a legend . A legend is a separate box off to the side of the chart that
contains one entry for each data series in a chart. The legend indicates the series
name, and it adds a little sample of the line style or fill style that you’ve used to draw
that series on the chart.
Excel automatically adds a legend to most charts. If you don’t already have a legend,
you can choose a layout that includes one, or you can make a selection from the
Chart Tools | Layout ➝ Labels ➝ Legend list. Different selections let you position the
legend in different corners of the chart, although true Excel pros just drag the legend
box to get it exactly where they want it.
Legends aren’t always an asset when you need to build slick, streamlined charts.
They introduce two main problems:
• Legends can be distracting . In order to identify a series, the person looking at
the chart needs to glance away from the chart to the legend, and turn back to
the chart again.
• Legends can be confusing . Even if you have only a few data series, the average
reader may find it hard to figure out which series corresponds with each entry in
the legend. This problem becomes more serious if you print your chart out on a
printer that doesn’t have the same range of colors as your computer monitor, in
which case different colored lines or blocks may begin to resemble each other.
If you don’t want to use a legend for these reasons, you can use data labels instead, as
described in the next section.
Adding Data Labels to a Series
Data labels are labels that you attach to every data point in a series. This text floats
just above the point, column, or pie slice that it describes, clearly identifying each
piece of information. Data labels have unrivalled explaining power—they can
identify everything . The only possible drawback is that adding data labels to a chart that’s
already dense with data may lead to an overcrowded jumble of information.
To apply data labels, choose a position from the Chart Tools | Layout ➝ Labels ➝ Data
Labels list. If you choose Chart Tools | Layout ➝ Labels ➝ Data Labels ➝ Center on
a column chart, each bar’s value appears as a number that’s centered vertically
inside the bar. On the other hand, if you choose Chart Tools | Layout ➝ Labels ➝ Data
Labels ➝ Outside End, the numbers appear just above the top of each column, which
is usually more readable (Figure 19-25).