Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
XY charts with the Smoothed Line option
XY charts with the Smoothed Line option
When you create an XY chart, you have an option to connect the points with a line.
Another option is to create a “smoothed line.” When the Smoothed Line option is in
effect, the data markers are connected with a line that contains curves. Figure 11-14
shows an example of an XY chart with straight lines (top) and an XY chart with
smoothed lines. Note that the chart on the right can be deceiving. The chart shows
the data extending below zero, even though none of the Y data values is less than
zero. Also, notice that using smoothed lines without data markers makes it
impossible to determine how many data points are used.
Figure 11-14: The Smoothed Line option can distort the data.
Don’t be tempted by 3-D charts
Excel’s 3-D charts have a special appeal because they often seem more artistic. But,
when all is said and done, 3-D charts offer few real advantages — and lead to quite
a few potential problems. I won’t say that you should never use 3-D charts, but it is
important that you understand their weaknesses.
3-D charts are usually acceptable if your goal is to show general relationships.
But for technical charts in which the viewer may want to make detailed
comparisons, a 2-D chart will always be preferable. Figure 11-15 shows a 3-D line chart
with three data series. What’s the value of the Qtr-3 data point for the WA series?
Which series has the highest value in Qtr-2? These questions cannot be answered
by looking at the chart.
With 3-D charts, there’s always the possibility of hidden data (see Figure 11-16).
You can rotate the chart or change the order of the series, but changing the chart type
is probably the best solution — unless, of course, your goal is to keep the data hidden!
And for those who really want to obscure their data, Excel enables you to add
perspective distortion, as in Figure 11-17. This setting, in effect, displays the chart
as if viewed through a very wide-angle lens.
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