Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Session 4.1
Figure 4-10
Excel chart elements
y-axis scale
chart area
chart title
value (y) axis
plot area
data marker
category (x) axis
tick mark
category label
The basic element of the chart is the plot area , a rectangular area containing a graphical
representation of the values in the data series. Each graphical representation is called a data
marker . Each column in a column chart is an example of a data marker. Other types of data
markers include the pie slices used in pie charts and the points used in XY (scatter) charts.
Most charts have two axes that border the plot area: an x-axis (or horizontal axis) and a
y-axis (or vertical axis). As mentioned earlier, values from the data series are plotted along
the y-axis, whereas the category labels are plotted along the x-axis. Each axis can have a
title that describes the values or labels displayed on the axis. In Figure 4-10, the x-axis
title is “Region” and the y-axis title is “Sales ($U.S.).”
The range of values that spans along an axis is called a scale . Excel automatically
chooses a scale to match the range of values in the data series. In the chart shown in
Figure 4-10, the scale of the y-axis ranges from $0 to $2,500,000. Next to the values on
the scales are tick marks , which act like the division lines on a ruler, making it easier to
read the scale. Your charts might also contain gridlines , which extend the tick marks
across the plot area. Excel divides gridlines into two types. Major gridlines are the lines
that extend the tick marks across the plot area; minor gridlines are the lines that divide the
space between the major gridlines.
If your chart contains more than one data series, the chart will usually have a legend
identifying the format of the data marker used for each series. Above the plot area, you
can add a chart title to describe the contents of the plot area and the data series. The
entire chart and all of the elements discussed so far are contained in the chart area .
You can format these various chart elements in the third step of the Chart Wizard. You
can also format these features later on, after the chart has been created. As shown in
Figure 4-11, step 3 of the Chart Wizard contains six tabs: Titles, Axes, Gridlines, Legend,
Data Labels, and Data Table. Each tab provides tools for formatting different elements of
your chart.
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