Lesson 16: Working with Charts

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Introduction

Working with Charts A chart is a tool you can use in Excel to communicate your data graphically. Charts allow your audience to more easily see the meaning behind the numbers in the spreadsheet, and to make showing comparisons and trends much easier. In this lesson, you will learn how to insert and modify Excel charts and see how they can be an effective tool for communicating information.

Charts

Creating a chart

Charts can be a useful way to communicate data. When you insert a chart in Excel, it appears in the selected worksheet with the source data by default.

To create a chart:

  • Select the worksheet you want to work with. In this example, we use the Summary worksheet.
  • Select the cells you want to chart, including the column titles and row labels.
  • Click the Insert tab.
  • Hover over each Chart option in the Charts group to learn more about it.
  • Select one of the Chart options. In this example, we'll use the Columns command.
  • Select a type of chart from the list that appears. For this example, we'll use a 2-D Clustered Column. The chart appears in the worksheet.
Select Data for Chart

Identifying the parts of a chart

Have you ever read something you didn't fully understand but when you saw a chart or graph, the concept became clear and understandable? Charts are a visual representation of data in a worksheet. Charts make it easy to see comparisons, patterns, and trends in the data.

Chart Example

Source data

The range of cells that make up a chart. The chart is updated automatically whenever the information in these cells changes.

Title

The title of the chart.

Legend

The chart key, which identifies what each color on the chart represents.

Axis

The vertical and horizontal parts of a chart. The vertical axis is often referred to as the Y axis, and the horizontal axis is referred to as the X axis.

Data series

The actual charted values, which are usually rows or columns of the source data.

Value axis

The axis that represents the values or units of the source data.

Category axis

The axis identifying each data series.

Chart tools

Once you insert a chart, a new set of Chart Tools, arranged into three tabs, will appear above the Ribbon. These are only visible when the chart is selected.

Select Data for Chart

To change the chart type:

  • Select the Design tab.
  • Click the Change Chart Type command. A dialog box appears.
Change Chart Type
  • Select another chart type.
  • Click OK.

The chart in the example compares each salesperson's monthly sales to his or her other months' sales; however, you can change what is being compared. Just click the Switch Row/Column Data command, which will rotate the data displayed on the x and y axes. To return to the original view, click the Switch Row/Column command again.

To change chart layout:

  • Select the Design tab.
  • Locate the Chart Layouts group.
  • Click the More arrow to view all of your layout options.
Change Chart Layout
  • Left-click a layout to select it.

If your new layout includes chart titles, axes, or legend labels, just insert your cursor into the text and begin typing to add your own text.

To change chart style:

  • Select the Design tab.
  • Locate the Chart Style group.
  • Click the More arrow to view all of your style options.
  • Left-click a style to select it.
Change Chart Style

To move the chart to a different worksheet:

  • Select the Design tab.
  • Click the Move Chart command. A dialog box appears. The current location of the chart is selected.
  • Select the desired location for the chart (i.e., choose an existing worksheet, or select New Sheet and name it).
Move Chart

Challenge!

Use the Company Sales workbook or any other workbook to complete this challenge.

  • Use worksheet data to create a chart.
  • Change the chart layout.
  • Apply a chart style.
  • Move the chart to a separate worksheet.

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