Chart Formatting


A chart created with all defaults settings usually accomplishes its purpose of helping to analyze data and figures, but the default features are set only as starting points. All the formatting and emphasis needs are left to you. Besides the values and numbers on it, a chart is a graphic object whose characteristics can be enhanced to accentuate special important points of the whole process.

When you decide to create a chart, you should decide what kinds of numbers and values you are dealing with. These numbers ought to be formatted appropriately. Fortunately, even after creating the chart, you can reformat your numbers with new settings and the chart will be updated, provided the numbers are similarly recognizable. You can also change the type most of the time and get a new and/or better result. Almost any feature on the chart can be changed or reformatted at will.

Charts share most the characteristics of the graphic items that you have become familiar with. This allows you to change a chart background, to reformat the fonts on its axes, to enhance the color of its columns, bar, cones, etc through the Fill Effects features.

Whenever a chart is selected on the worksheet, a Chart Menu Bar replaces the regular main menu. When a chart is selected, the Chart toolbar allows you to reformat various characteristics related to the chart. Just like any combination of a menu and toolbar, the Chart Menu Bar and the Chart toolbar work together to offer all formatted features of the chart.
It is also very useful to always have the Drawing toolbar handy. You can improve a chart’s look by adding any of the usual drawing from shapes to special characters.

Format Chart: Change Chart Type

The Chart Wizard is equipped with various kinds of charts. In each category, different sub-types are used to accomplish a unique purpose. Although they share a lot of characteristics, some charts in the sub-type can tremendously change or alter the intended goal. You should know what options are available, and then act accordingly.

Many charts can be changed from one kind to another, sometimes completely different. For example, you can change a chart from a flat column to a 3-D clustered. You can also change a chart from a bar to a cylinder, etc.

To change a chart type, right-click on an empty area of the chart and click Chart Type from the menu.

Practical Learning: Creating Chart Type

  1. Open the Charts2 workbook
  2. Right-click on a white area on the chart and click Chart Type…
  3. From the Source Data dialog, click the chart on 1st column, 2nd row (Clustered column with a 3-D visual effect.).
  4. Click OK.
  5. Click the Life Expectancy worksheet to activate it.
  6. Click the chart to make it active.
  7. On the Chart toolbar, click the arrow of the Chart Type button and select 3-D Pyramid Chart.
  8. Click the Graphic Equation sheet to activate it.
  9. Click the chart to select it.
  10. On the main menu, click Chart ª Chart Type…
  11. From the Chart Type dialog, click the Custom Type property sheet. In the Chart Type list, click Colored Lines. Notice the preview in the Sample section.
  12. Still in the Chart Type dialog, click the Standard Type property sheet. In the Chart Type list, make sure Line is selected. In the Chart Sub-type list, click the chart in the 1st column, 2nd row. Click OK.

Chart Types: Identify Data Source 

More often, you will test data when creating your charts. Your experience with trials and errors can help to enhance the effects of your analysis. Therefore, you should know how to change all or parts of your chart.

The chart keeps live track of the data used on it, this means your data is always updated to the minute if you change or delete it. Also, you can completely change the values that are controlling the chart. To change the source of data on a chart, right-click on a white area of the chart and click Source Data… If you want to, you can type the new range of data, but the safest way is to reselect data using the mouse. The Source Data property sheet is a modeless dialog; this allows you to select data behind the scenes while the dialog is opened. Once you have set the new range, click OK.

If you observe the Summary Sales chart, you find that one of the sales people, Alex, is not selling a lot, at least as compared to other employees; this could be due to anything. Let’s assume that Alex is a manager and is not directly involves with sales, except that some time to time, he helps other employees, that’s could be why his sales are low. If then he is not a sales person, we can just remove him from the chart and analyze the figures of those who have that profession.

Practical Learning: Changing Data Source

  1. Still in the Chart2 workbook, click the Summary Sales worksheet.
  2. Click the chart to activate it.
  3. Right-click on a white area on the chart and click Source Data…
  4. From the Source Data dialog, click the button on the right side of the Data Range edit box.
  5. Select cells B5:E7
  6. Press and hold Ctrl. Select cells B10:E10. Release Ctrl.
  7. Click the button just under the Close button to get back to the Source Data dialog.
  8. Click OK.

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