Creating a Chart

Excel charts let you illustrate your workbook data graphically to see trends. Also use charts in Excel to visualize comparisons.

Introduction

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

Chart basics

Have you ever read something you didn't fully understand, but when you saw a chart or graph the concept became clear and understandable? Excel 2000 has a chart feature you can use to help explain data. Many people find that a picture helps when they are trying to understand the significance of a list of numbers.

excel window with source data and chart

Source data

This is the range of cells that make up a chart.

Title

This is the title of the chart.

Legend

Think of the legend as the key to the chart. It shows what each of the colors on the chart represents.

Axis

This refers to the vertical and horizontal parts of a chart. The vertical axis is often referred to as the y axis, while the horizontal axis is referred to as the x axis.

Data series

This is the actual charted values. They are usually the rows or columns of the source data.

Value axis

This is the axis that represents the values or units of the source data.

Category axis

This is the axis identifying each data series.

Types of charts

Excel offers several ways to chart your data.

Important pointThink of a chart as a tool that helps people visualize data. Charts deliver information more quickly and easily than a column of numbers in a worksheet, especially to people sitting in the audience for a presentation. Choosing the right kind of chart for your data can help get your point across.

Here are some of the most common charts:

Pie chart

A pie chart hows the relationship of parts to a whole. If the pie is the sum of the source data, each slice of the pie represents an individual number.

pie chart

Column or bar chart

This is useful to follow trends or to compare numbers. Each column represents a particular value. A bar chart is a horizontal version of a column chart.

column chart

Line chart

A line chart is useful for tracking trends over time, making it easy to study the rise or decline of a particular item. A variation of the line chart is the area chart, where the area under the line is shaded a particular color.

line chart

The Chart toolbar

Excel 2000 offers several ways to work with charts. The quickest way to create and edit your charts is to use the Chart toolbar.

To show the Chart toolbar:

  • Choose View Toolbars Chart.

view menu

Parts of the Chart toolbar:

chart toolbar

Chart Objects list box

This allows you to select the individual parts of your chart.

Format button

This allows you to format the current selection.

Chart type

Use this to select the type of chart.

Legend

Show or hide the chart legend.

Data table

Show or hide the actual data used to create the chart.

By row

This displays the y axis using row labels.

By column

This displays the x axis using column labels.

Angle text

Use these to change the angle of the x and y axis labels.

Creating an embedded chart

Embedded charts are charts that reside in the same worksheet as the source data.

To embed a chart in a worksheet:

  • Choose ViewToolbarsChart.
  • Select the range of cells you want to chart. Your source data should include at least three categories or numbers.
  • On the Chart toolbar, click the chart type drop-down menu and select the chart you want to use.


    chart type pull down

  • To add a title to your chart, open the chart options dialog box: ChartOptions.


    chart menu

  • Select the Titles tab, and enter your title in the Chart Title text box.

    chart options dialog box

Important Point Keep in mind that different charts will work best with different data. For example, a pie chart can only display one data series at a time.

Creating a chart sheet

Although Excel creates an embedded chart by default, in some situations you may want to place a chart on a separate sheet. A separate sheet with a chart on it is called a chart sheet. Chart sheets can make your charts stand out, particularly when you are working with complicated spreadsheets.

To move an embedded chart to a chart sheet:

  • Select the chart you want to move.
  • Choose ChartLocation.

    chart menu

  • In the Chart Location dialog box, select As a new sheet.
  • Click OK.

    chart location dialog box

Your chart should now display on a separate chart sheet in your workbook.

chart sheet

Important Point You can also use the Chart Location dialog box to rename the chart sheet.

The Chart Wizard

Excel 2000 also includes a Chart Wizard that can take you through the steps to create a chart.

To use the Chart Wizard:

  • Select the range of data you want to chart.
  • Choose InsertChart.

    insert menu

  • OR press the Chart button on the Standard toolbar.


    chart wizard button

  • Follow the directions in the Chart Wizard.


    chart wizard

Challenge!

  • Create some source data, or use a worksheet you've already created.
  • Create the following charts using the source data:
    • Pie chart
    • Line chart
    • Column or bar chart
  • Move one of your charts to a separate chart sheet.

Important PointWhich chart does the best job of explaining your data?