Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Standard Chart Types
The column chart (upper left) is probably the best choice for this particular set of
data because it clearly shows the information for each month in discrete units. The
bar chart (upper right) is similar to a column chart, but the axes are swapped. Most
people are more accustomed to seeing time-based information extend from left to
right rather than from top to bottom.
The line chart (middle left) may not be the best choice because it seems to imply
that the data is continuous — that points exist in between the 12 actual data points.
This same argument could be made against using an area chart (middle right).
The pie chart (lower left) is simply too confusing and does nothing to convey the
time-based nature of the data. Pie charts are most appropriate for a data series in
which you want to emphasize proportions among a relatively small number of data
points. If you have too many data points, a pie chart can be impossible to interpret.
The radar chart (lower right) is clearly inappropriate for this data. People are not
accustomed to viewing time-based information in a circular direction!
Fortunately, changing a chart’s type is a very easy procedure, so you can
experiment with various chart types until you find the one that represents your data
accurately and clearly — and as simply as possible.
The remainder of this chapter contains lots of information about Excel’s various
chart types. The examples and discussion may give you a better handle on
determining the most appropriate chart type for your data.
Standard Chart Types
When you use the Chart Wizard to create a chart, the first step is to select the type
of chart. The first step of the Chart Wizard dialog box contains two tabs: Standard
Types and Custom Types. Selecting an item in the Chart type list box displays a
number of subtypes for the chart type. For example, a Column chart has seven
subtypes. Table 2-1 lists the standard chart types along with the number of subtypes
associated with each.
T ABLE 2-1 EXCEL’S STANDARD CHART TYPES