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Data Analysis With Charts

 

Overview of Charts

 

Introduction

A chart is a technique of displaying data using pictures and graphical representations instead of numbers or simple words. It works by drawing figures that would represent numbers, adding colors and shapes to the information presented. Good created and formatted charts can help people and businesses make decisions based on the impact that the images provide.

While data analysis as we have seen so far was performed on records displayed on datasheets or forms, data analysis on charts is done using graphics that present pictures. In addition to the pictures, you can add words, also called labels to indicate what the pictures represent.

Because a chart is used to present data in a graphical format, before creating a chart, you should plan it. That is, you should prepare it. There are two pieces of information you should have before starting: The numbers that you want to represent and the type of chart you want to use.

Creating a Chart

The information used to create a chart can come from a table. In some other cases, you can use a query as queries do a good job of isolating records or counting them. Before creating a chart, you should prepare it so it can be easily recognizable. Data used on a chart can be made of natural numbers or percentage values. You can also present a series of repeating words and let the chart engine count the occurrences of such words before using them as numbers.

To start a chart, display a new form in Design View and, in the Controls section of the Ribbon, click the Insert Chart button Insert Chart, and position the mouse on the form or report. The mouse cursor would appear with small bars:

You can then click the form. You may receive a Microsoft Office Access Security Notice:

Microsoft Office Access Security Notice

If you receive the Security Notice, you should click Open. This starts the Chart Wizard and you can continue with it as we will learn.

There are different types of charts, ranging from columns to pies, from lines to surfaces, etc, as we will review them. To present its information more efficiently, a chart is made of different sections. The main area allows users to view the graphical display of data. A legend explains the meaning of various colors on the chart. A title indicates what the chart is used for.

Practical Learning: Creating a Chart

  1. From the resources that accompany our lessons, open the Altair Realtors3 database
  2. On the ribbon, click Create and, in the Forms section, click Form Design
  3. On the Ribbon, in the Controls section, click the Insert Chart button Insert Chart and click the form.
    If nothing happens, on the Message Box, click the Options button, click the Enable This Content radio button and click OK.
    Start a new form in Form Design again, click the Insert Chart button and click the form
  4. In the first page of the Chart Wizard dialog box, make sure the Tables radio button is selected and, in the list, click Home Sales
     
    The Chart Wizard dialog box
     
    Click Next
  5. In the second page of the Chart Wizard, in the Available Fields list, double-click State to include it in the Fields For Chart list and click Next
  6. In the third page of the Chart Wizard, accept the Column Chart in the 1st column - 1st row and click Next
  7. To preview the chart, click the Preview Chart button
     
    Chart Wizard
  8. Click Close and click Next
  9. Set the Title to Sales Per State and click Finish
  10. To save the form, click the Save button
  11. Set the name to Sales Per State
  12. To preview the chart, display the form in Form View
     
    Chart

The Characteristics of a Chart

 

A Chart and its Container

A chart cannot reside on its own: it needs a container such as a form or a report to hold it. This also implies that the chart can only fit inside the size allocated by its parent. Based on this, if the database is configured to display in Overlapped Windows, and it you want the chart to be taller or wider that the size it currently has, you must first display the form or the report that is hosting it in Design View, and then enlarge the host. Once the parent object has enough room, you can enlarge the chart as you see fit. If you are creating the chart on a report and if the chart needs room, you can enlarge the report, then enlarge the chart and set the page setup to Landscape.

Practical Learning: Resizing a Chart

  1. Display the form in Design View
  2. Widen the form to 6.1 and heighten it to 4.1
  3. Enlarge the chart to 6 and heighten it to 4
  4. Save the form

Chart

The Sections of a Chart

To present its information, a chart is made of various sections:

The Sections of a Chart

Most or every one of these aspects can be hidden, displayed or changed. To perform any action on these parts, after displaying the form or report that holds the chart in Design View, you use Microsoft Graph. To open it:

  • You can right-click the chart, position the mouse on Chart Object and click Open
  • You can double-click the chart

This would open a separate application. In Microsoft Graph, you can click or right-click the desired part.

Editing the values of a Chart

As mentioned already, to create a chart in Microsoft Access, you use values from a table or a query. When analyzing data using a chart, you may want to use "What If" scenarios. For example, if you are viewing the numbers of students per gender in a school and one gender is predominant, you may want to view the tendency if the number of members were the same for both members, if the members of the predominant gender were even more, or if the members of the other gender were predominant. Therefore, during data analysis, you can change the values used by the chart. When you have finished using the chart and you close its parent, the values you used would be lost and the chart would again use only the values stored in its Row Source.

To change the values used for a chart without changing the real values, you can open Microsoft Graph. It would present a spreadsheet:

To change the value, in the Datasheet, click the cell that holds the value and type the desired one. After editing the value(s), click the body of the form or report to return to Microsoft Access. The chart would display with the new values. Remember that if you close the form or report, the chart would loose those temporary values.

A Chart's Legend

To show what the graphics on a chart represent, a chart is accompanied by an object on a side called a legend. The legend is made of at least one small square box of the same color of at least one of the graphics on the chart:

In this case, the legend contains one item named Count. Because the legend represents a graphic of the chart, when you make a change on that graphic, the legend is updated. Still, you can change the legend if you want.

To make changes to the legend, display the Microsoft Graph for the chart, right-click the legend and click Format Legend. This would open the Format Legend dialog box, make the changes, and click OK.

If you do not want to use a legend, you can delete it. To do this, right-click the legend and click Clear or click the legend and press Delete.

Practical Learning: Using a Chart's Legend

  1. Right-click a white area of the chart, position the mouse on Chart Object and click Open
  2. Right-click the box with Count and click Format Legend
  3. In the Format Legend dialog box, click the Font tab
  4. In the Font combo box, select Garamond
  5. Click the Color combo box and select Red (1st section: 1st column - 3rd row)
  6. Click OK
  7. Close Microsoft Graph

The Title of a Chart

To indicate what it is used for, a chart can be equipped with a title. The title is a string that typically displays in the top section of a chart. In some (rare) cases, a title can also be positioned on the left or the right sides, above or below the chart. To move the title, display the form or report in Design View, click and drag the chart in the desired direction.

To format the title, you can either double-click it or right-click it and click Format Chart Title. By default, the chart displays without a border, in bold Calibri font. You can change or format it using the Format Chart Title dialog box.

When creating the chart, if you need more room for it, you can put the chart in the Detail section and remove the title. Then, for a form, you can create the title as a label in the Form Header section. For a report, you can add a label in the Report Header section and give it the same caption you would have given to the title of the chart.

Practical Learning: Formatting a Chart's Title

  1. The Sales Per State form should still be opened in Design View.
    Right-click an area of the chart -> Chart Object -> Open
  2. Right-click the Sales Per State title and click Format Chart Title...
  3. In the Format Chart Title dialog box, click the Font property page
  4. In the Font combo box, select Times New Roman
  5. In the Size combo box, select 22
  6. Click the arrow of the Color combo box and select Blue
     
    Format Chart Title
  7. Click OK
  8. Close Microsoft Graph
  9. Save the form
  10. To preview the chart, switch the form to Form View
  11. Switch it back to Design View

Chart Figures

To represent its numbers, a chart draws some geometric figures, depending on the type of chart. These figures can be rectangles, pie slices, triangles, cones, etc. To paint these figures, by default, the chart engine uses some randomly selected colors from its own list. You can either change these colors or apply some preset drawings available. You can also design and use any custom picture to paint the chart's shapes.

To format the geometric figures of a chart, you can right-click one of them and click Format Data Series.

By default, when you have just created a chart that uses one column for its values, Microsoft Graph applies the same formatting, such as the same color, to all of its figures. You can keep this or treat each figure separately. To separate the figures, after opening Microsoft Graph, you can click a figure, then click it again. From then, the chart would change from one series:

Breaking the Chart

To individual figures:

Breaking the Chart

If you create a chart that uses more than one column, a separate category with its own color would be automatically created. You can then format each category as you see fit.

Practical Learning: Formatting a Chart's Shapes

  1. Right-click an area of the chart -> Chart Object -> Open
  2. On the graph, click the most left rectangular box (click once and release the mouse). Notice that each rectangular box has a small black square in the middle
  3. Click the left rectangular box again. When it is surrounded by 8 small black squares, right-click it and click Format Data Point
  4. In the Format Data Point dialog box, make sure the Patterns property page is selected. In the Border section, click the Custom radio button. click the arrow of the Color combo box and click Blue (6th column - 2nd row)
  5. In the Area section, click the Pale Blue color (1st section - 6th column - 5th row)
     
    Format Data Point
  6. Click OK
  7. Right-click the second from left rectangular box and click Format Data Point...
  8. In the Format Data Point dialog box, make sure the Patterns property page is selected. In the Area section, click Fill Effects...
  9. In the Gradient property page of the Fill Effects dialog box, in the Colors section, click the One Color radio button
  10. Click the arrow of the Color 1 button and select Brown
  11. In the Color 1 section, drag the thumb of the slider somewhere to the right but not completely
  12. In the Shading section, click the Vertical radio button
  13. In the Variants section, click the box on 1st column - 2nd row
     
    Fill Effects
  14. Click OK and OK
  15. Format the other rectangular boxes as you see fit (go crazy; ain't nobody watchin' you) and return to Microsoft Access
     
    Chart
  16. Save the form and preview the chart
  17. Print the form
  18. Display the form in Design View

Chart's Labels

By default, when a chart is drawn, it is equipped with shapes and a separate legend. If you want, you can display the value of each part and possibly its name close to it. This is done through a label. On a large chart, a label can also be used in the absence of a legend. In fact, you can delete a legend and simply make use of a label.

To add the labels to a chart, right-click a box on the chart and click Format Data Series. Once in the Format Data Series dialog box, click the Data Labels tab:

In the Label Contains group box, click the desired check box(es) and click OK.

Practical Learning: Formatting Labels on a Chart

  1. Right-click an area of the chart -> Chart Object -> Open
  2. Right-click DC and click Format Axis...
  3. In the Color dialog box, click the Font tab.
    In the Font combo box, select Garamond
  4. Click the Color combo box, select blue
  5. Click OK
  6. Close Microsoft Graph
     
  7. Right-click an area of the chart -> Chart Object -> Open
  8. Right-click MD and click Format Axis...
  9. In the Patterns tab, in the Major Tick Mark Type section, click the None radio button
  10. In the Minor Tick Mark Type section, click the None radio button
  11. In the Tick Mark Labels section, click the Low radio button
     
    Format Axis
  12. Click OK
  13. Right-click one of the rectangular boxes of the chart and click Format Data Series
  14. Click the Data Labels tab
  15. Click the Value check box and click OK
  16. Close Microsoft Graph
     
  17. Preview the form 
  18. Save the form then switch it back to Design View

The Chart's Background

One more way you can enhance the appearance of a chart is to draw a background wall behind it. The wall is just a graphical object. By default, the background of a chart is painted in white. You can use a different color to paint it, a design pattern or a picture to cover it. Before formatting the chart, open Microsoft Graph. To format its wall, right-click the chart and click Format Chart Area... This would open the Format Chart dialog box where you can make the necessary changes.

Practical Learning: Formatting a Chart's Walls

  1. Right-click an area of the chart -> Chart Object -> Open
  2. Right-click the chart and click Format Chart Area...
  3. In the Format Chart Area dialog box, in the Area section, click Fill Effects
  4. In the Fill Effects dialog box, click the Pattern tab
  5. In the Pattern section, click the box in 8th column - 5th row
  6. Set the Foreground to White (8th column - 5th row)
  7. Set the Background to Tan (2nd column - 6th row)
     
  8. Click OK twice
  9. Close Microsoft Graph
     
  10. Preview the chart
  11. Print the form
  12. Save and close the form

Lesson Summary

 

MCAS: Using Microsoft Office Access 2007 Topics

P3 Create and modify charts
 

Exercises

 

Yugo National Bank

  1. Open the Yugo National Bank1 database
  2. In a form, create a (Column) chart using the State column of the Customers table to have an idea of the ratio of customers by state. Do not save the chart

Watts A Loan

  1. Open the Watts A Loan database
  2. In a form, create a column chart using the City column of the customers table to have an idea of the ratio of customers by city. Do not save the form

US Senate

  1. Open the US Senate1 database
  2. In a form, create a pie chart that represent the distribution of genders of the senators. Do not save it
  3. In a report, create a column chart that represent the religions of the senators. Do not save it
 

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