Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Figure 11-20: An area chart before and after removing all nonessential elements
When someone views a chart, they often have an immediate reaction to it, and that
reaction is due in large part to the overall style or appearance of the chart. Does it
look inviting, or is it a jumbled mess?
To paraphrase Plato, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. A chart that looks
terrible to me may look great to you. That said, following are some general aesthetic
guidelines to keep in mind when creating charts:
Don’t let design elements detract from the chart. For example, if you use a
clip art image in a chart’s Plot Area, make sure that the image is relevant
to the chart’s subject matter and is not overpowering
For time-based data, the standard arrangement (at least for most Western
cultures) is left to right. If you must use a bar chart with a vertical
category axis, arrange the time-based categories from top to bottom.
Excel offers a wide variety of patterns (available in the Pattern tab of the
Fill Effects dialog box). These are essentially holdovers from very early
versions of Excel, when color printers were a rarity. If you must use any
of these patterns, do some print tests to ensure that they look good when
If possible, avoid using vertically oriented text.
If you display gridlines, make sure that they don’t overpower the chart.
Often, using a gray dashed line is sufficient.
If you’re using multiple charts, it is critical that they all have the same
“look.” This includes elements such as color, font, number formatting,
sizing, and so on.