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Charts let you summarize your data visually, making it easier for you to grasp patterns in your data. In this movie, I'll show you how to summarize your data using column charts and bar charts. A column chart compares values across categories. The simplest column chart uses two columns of data: one with categories and another with values for the categories. So here, for example, I have different infusions of olive oil that The Two Trees Olive Oil Company could sell. So, I have Lemon, Rosemary, Mandarin and Jalapeno, and the number of bottles that were sold over the past year in each of those varieties.
If I want to create a column chart to summarize that data, I can click any cell in the data set, and then on the Charts tab of the Ribbon, click Column and then click the type of column chart that I want to create. In this case, I'll just do the standard clustered column. When it appears, you'll see that I have a single column, representing each variety's data. So, we have Lemon, which sold 14,000, and also if I hover the mouse pointer over a column, you'll see that it displays a tooltip, indicating the series Bottles Sold - that's the data that I have here in this column - Lemon, which you also see on the horizontal axis; and then the value, which is 14,000, which you can discern approximately from looking at the column in the chart, but you know the exact value when you hover over that column in the chart.
Same thing here with Rosemary, Mandarin, and Jalapeno. Now, I am going to delete this chart for now, so I'll press the Delete key and create a clustered column chart. A clustered column chart works with multiple series of data so, for example, in this case we have our four infusions again, but we also have the years 2008, 2009, and 2010, and I have my data laid out as a table. When I create the column chart, I click the Column button again - we're the Charts tab of the Ribbon - and I click Clustered Column.
Then Excel creates a chart where we have the number of bottles sold along the vertical axis; the categories, in this case the different infusions along the bottom - the horizontal axis; and then we have three data series within the chart. The blue columns are for the year 2008, red for 2009, and green for 2010. If I slide the chart over a little bit to reveal as much of the data as I can, you'll see that this corresponds to the series.
We have 2008 for Lemon, and then in 2009, sales went up a little bit, which is reflected here, and then in 2010, sales went up quite substantially, and that's reflected in the green bar. And the same thing is repeated across the chart, for each of the different infusions and the three years for which we have data. Now, I am going to delete this chart and create a different type of column chart, and this type of chart is called a stacked chart. So, if I click any cell in the data area, click Column and then click Stacked Column, you'll see how that operates now.
What a stacked column chart does is it finds a total for a series. So, for example, we have Lemon, which had 3,933 sales bottles sold in the year 2008; and then in 2009 it had 5,442; and in 2010 it had over 14,000. What this does is it combines elements of a pie chart, which is a summary of contribution to a whole, with the column chart; you now have a visual indication of how much each of the three years contributes to the whole.
You can also evaluate how each infusion is selling vis-a-vis the others. So, for example, it looks like it's a close race between Rosemary and Mandarin, Lemon is in third and Jalapeno is in fourth. The other type of chart I'd like to talk about is a bar chart. A bar chart is just like a column chart, except it's flipped on its side. So, I will delete this chart, and rather than work with this rather complex chart down here, I will create a bar chart and make it a clustered bar chart.
So in this case, you see that I have the same data, except that now it's laid out on its side. So, we have the categories here along the vertical axis, and we have the number of bottles sold along the horizontal axis, and then the bars within the chart give you a visual indication of the relative values. Now, why would you use a bar chart as opposed to a column chart? As I said, column charts are great for comparing data across categories; bar charts are typically used when you're evaluating time. So, for example, if instead of bottles sold the values, that you were evaluating within this chart were say the time spent on the project, because we tend to think of time as flowing from left to right and read from left to right in many western cultures, bar charts are often used in business as a way of indicating how much time will be spent on a project.
So, for example, phase 1 of our project might be the first bar, phase 2 of our project should be the second, and so on. Column and bar charts help you summarize categories of data. If your data represents time, such as elements of a project, consider using a bar chart. In almost every other case though, a column chart will be your best bet.
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