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In Excel for Mac 2011 Essential Training, author Curt Frye gives a comprehensive overview of Excel, the full-featured spreadsheet software from Microsoft. The course covers key skills such as manipulating workbook and cell data, using functions, automating actions, printing worksheets, and collaborating with others. Exercise files accompany the course.
When you summarize data in a chart, Excel adds markers and labels to the chart's horizontal and vertical axes to help viewers interpret the chart's contents. As with other elements of your chart, you can control the appearance of those markers. So, for example, let's take a look at the chart that I have here, and it's a chart that is tracking the visitors that come to my web site on any given month. On the horizontal axis, I have the month, January, February, March and so on, but let's say that I wasn't really concerned about the actual months; instead, I wanted to know about the trend.
If I wanted to do that, I can hide the values on the horizontal axis so that I don't see them. To do that, you click the chart, and then on the Chart Layout contextual tab, in the Axes group, you click the Axes button, point to Horizontal Axis, and then click No Axis. When you do, Excel hides all of the labels from the horizontal axis. If you want to bring it back, you can just click the Axes button again, point to Horizontal Axis, and click Axis Left to Right, and there they are.
Now let's say that you wanted to change the labels on the vertical axis here, which deals with numbers, in this case the count of the number of visitors. If you wanted to do that, you can, again, on the Chart Layout contextual tab, click the Axes button, this time pointing to the Vertical Axis and, because I want to make changes to the numbering that isn't available through the menu, I can click Axis Options. One common way to change the vertical axis is to change the numbers that it uses to summarize your data.
So, for example, right now, it has a minimum value of zero and a maximum value of 3,000. The problem is that I don't have a value less than 1,500 anywhere in the chart. So what I will do to make the differences between the values a little bit more obvious is to change my minimum value, and in this case, I'll bump it up to 1,000. So I will type 1,000, which makes the number 1,000, and you can already see in the chart that Excel has started updating it. Excel also dropped the maximum value to 2,600, and everything now looks good.
I can click OK, and Excel has changed the vertical axis. And you can see that the difference among the data points is more obvious than it was before. There are many more axes formatting options you can use. Take the time to explore the Axis Options dialog box, both for the vertical axis and the horizontal axis, and you learned quite a few techniques you can use to make your charts more attractive. I usually find that the axis numbering and marking a cell itself creates by default serves my purposes well. However, if you want to change the appearance of your charts axes, you can use the controls on the Layout contextual tab to do so.
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