Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Basic Steps for Creating a Chart
Switching the row and column orientation
When Excel creates a chart, it uses an algorithm to determine whether the data is arranged in
columns or in rows. Most of the time, Excel guesses correctly, but if it creates the chart using the wrong
orientation, you can quickly change the orientation by selecting the chart and choosing Chart Tools➜
Design➜Data➜Switch Row/Column. This command is a toggle, so if changing the data orientation
doesn’t improve the chart, just choose the command again (or click the Undo button found on the
Quick Access toolbar).
The orientation of the data has a drastic effect on the look (and, perhaps, understandability) of your
chart. Figure 5-11 shows the column chart in Figure 5-10 after changing the orientation. Notice that
the chart now has three data series, one for each month. If the goal of your dashboard is to compare
actual values to projected values for each month, this version of the chart is much more difficult to
interpret because the relevant columns are not adjacent.
Figure 5-11: The column chart, after swapping the row/column orientation.
Changing the chart type
After you create a chart, you can easily change the chart type. Although a column chart may work
well for a particular data set, there’s no harm in checking out other chart types. You can choose Chart
Tools Design Type Change Chart Type to display the Change Chart Type dialog box and
experiment with other chart types. Figure 5-12 shows the Change Chart Type dialog box.
In the Change Chart Type dialog box, the main categories are listed on the left, and the subtypes are
shown as icons. Select an icon and click OK, and Excel displays the chart using the new chart type. If
you don’t like the result, click the Undo button.
If the chart is an embedded chart, you can also change a chart’s type by using the icons
in the Insert Charts group. In fact, this method is more efficient because it doesn’t
involve a dialog box.
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