Formatting a Chart

Excel XP charts let you illustrate your workbook data graphically to see trends. Learn how to format charts in Excel XP in this free lesson.

Introduction

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

Formatting the chart title

The chart title can be formatted to change color, pattern, typeface, size, and alignment using the Format Chart Title dialog box.

To format the chart title:

  • Select the chart title.

    Select the Chart Title
  • Click Format on the Chart toolbar, or double-click the chart title.

    Chart Toolbar
  • The Format Chart Title dialog box contains three tabs—Patterns, Font, and Alignment—that can be used to format the chart title.
  • The Patterns tab lets you define borders and fill colors.
  • The Font tab lets you define font, font style, size, and color.
  • The Alignment tab lets you define horizontal and vertical cell placement, as well as text orientation.

    Format Chart Title Dialog Box
  • Click OK to accept the chart title format changes.

Formatting the chart legend

The chart legend displays useful information about the chart. Like a roadmap, the legend identifies what different colors or objects represent in the chart. The chart legend—like the chart title and category axis labels—can be formatted to your liking.

To format the chart legend:

  • Press the show/hide legend button on the Chart toolbar to turn on the legend display. (This button acts like a toggle by turning the display on or off.)

    The Legend Button on the Chart Toolbar
  • Click to select the chart legend.
  • Click Format on the Chart toolbar, or double-click the chart legend.

    Chart Toolbar
  • The Format Legend dialog box contains three tabs—Patterns, Font, and Alignment—that can be used to format the chart title.
  • The Patterns tab lets you define borders and fill colors.
  • The Font tab lets you define font, font style, size, and color.
  • The Placement tab lets you define the location where the legend will appear on the chart.

    Format Legend Dialog Box
  • Click OK to accept the chart legend format changes.

The only way to change the actual text that appears in the chart legend is to change the source data in the worksheet.

Formatting the axis labels

In Excel, a graph represents data in two dimensions. The number of items sold in January, for example, is data on two dimensions: number of items and month. The number of items might be plotted on the Y axis, while the month may be plotted on the X axis. The Y axis runs up and down on the graph, while the X axis runs left to right.

When formatting the axis labels in your chart, you can adjust the numbers on the scale of the chart, as well as change font, color, and style.

To format an axis:

  • Click anywhere in the axis label you want to edit:

    Chart X-Axis

    Chart Y-Axis
  • Click Format on the Chart toolbar, or double-click the chart axis.

    Chart Toolbar
  • The Format Axis dialog box contains three tabs—Patterns, Font, and Alignment—that can be used to format the chart title.
  • The Patterns tab lets you define borders and tick marks.
  • The Scale tab lets you define numeric intervals on the value (Y) axis scale.
  • The Font tab lets you define font, font style, size, and color.
  • The Number tab lets you define the format of numbers displayed in the axis.
  • The Alignment tabs let you define text orientation.

    Format Axis Dialog Box
  • Click OK to accept the axis format changes.

You can also use the angle axis buttons on the Chart toolbar to change the angle of the value and category axes.

Changing the data series color

When a chart is created in Excel XP, you'll notice that color is automatically applied to the data series. You can keep this format or change it for each data series in the chart. Various aspects of each data series can be changed, but you'll probably change the color of bars, columns, pie slices, and areas most often.

To change the color of a data series:

  • Select the data series you want to edit.

    Data Series Color Selection
  • Click Format on the Chart toolbar, or double-click the data series.

    Chart Toolbar
  • Use the Format Data Series dialog box to select a new color.

    Format Data Series Dialog Box
  • Click OK to accept the data series color changes.

Challenge!

  • Type the following information in the worksheet:

    In cell A2, type October
    In cell A3, type November
    In cell A4, type December
    In cell B1, type Clothes
    In cell B2, type 124
    In cell B3, type 78
    In cell B4, type 97
    In cell C1, type Movies
    In cell C2, type 12
    In cell C3, type 18
    In cell C4, type 20
    In cell D1, type Books
    In cell D2, type 45
    In cell D3, type 78
    In cell D4, type 15

  • Create an embedded bar chart that plots October, November, and December on the Y axis. The legend will include Clothes, Movies, and Books.
  • Assign a chart name in the Titles tab of the Chart Options dialog box.
  • Format the chart name by assigning it a Verdana font, bold font style, a size of 20, and the color red.
  • Format the chart legend so its placement is at the top of the screen.
  • Format the X axis so the text orientation is 45 degrees for each label in the data series.
  • Select a data series color and change it to another color.