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Adding drop lines

From: Excel 2007: Charts in Depth

Video: Adding drop lines

For chart series that have many data points, perhaps like the line charge that we're seeing here, you can add a feature called drop lines that improve the readability of the values here. If we could drop lines from each point here down to the axis, we can more readily see which point is associated with which time period. So you don't even have to select the line; just select the chart and then on the Layout tab, the choice under Lines > Drop Lines. We see what's happening there. The more points you have, the more likely this is to be useful.

Adding drop lines

For chart series that have many data points, perhaps like the line charge that we're seeing here, you can add a feature called drop lines that improve the readability of the values here. If we could drop lines from each point here down to the axis, we can more readily see which point is associated with which time period. So you don't even have to select the line; just select the chart and then on the Layout tab, the choice under Lines > Drop Lines. We see what's happening there. The more points you have, the more likely this is to be useful.

Now what might be a little annoying here is that the tick lines don't necessarily match up with those, and they look like they are sort of obtrusive. You could either get rid of them or make an adjustment here simply by right-clicking anywhere down on the horizontal axis here. Right-click, go to Format Axis, and then for the tick lines, how about Position Axis, On tick marks? Watch the display change. We'll see what's happening there. In effect that got rid of them, or at caused them to coincide with the drop lines. So that's likely to be helpful there, too.

Now what if we add more data? I'm actually going to go slide down a bit on the screen here, and maybe we've got data for 12 more months. So I'm simply going to copy this data or move it over into here, double-click to make the column wider, take this last entry here and with the right mouse button I'll simply drag downward to cover an additional time period. We'll fill this with months. There we go. And then clicking back up on the chart, we still haven't expanded this. Now we're already to expand into the new area, the new set of numbers, and so now we'll have even more values being displayed up there. And I think you can begin to see that these lines are even more valuable.

This feature, by the way, is only available on two kinds of charts: this kind of chart here, a line chart, and also an area chart. Let's take a look at an area chart. We'll go to the Design tab in the Ribbon, leftmost button, Change Chart Type, and this time how about an Area Chart? And just the first one right here will do just fine. Double-click it and we see that kind of choice. That might be enhanced by with different chart style. It doesn't have to be necessarily say, this one. But we can begin to see how that makes these a bit more readable.

Now the values maybe aren't quite what you want, and that's a different characteristic and a different feature. But the drop arrows here allow us to associate the actual points with the months. Now as a byproduct of this, and this happens sometimes, notice how we are getting every other month. That may or may not be bothersome to you. You can easily figure it out. But sometimes the choice is either to make this wider. At some point maybe they'll kick in. Or if you didn't want to do that, maybe we could change the font down here. Just click here and then on the Home tab use a smaller font. Instead of 10, we'll use, for example, 9 and then months are visible that way.

And a third thing we might do too is possibly simply slant the text this way counterclockwise. That might help as well. But once again, see how every other one appears now. So you just have to kick that around a little bit yourself to decide what works best for you. But the drop arrows certainly help in certain kinds of charts, certain kinds of line charts, or area charts, where you're trying to be able to read where the line actually points to. Adding drop lines will improve the readability of charts the display many data points.

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Excel 2007: Charts in Depth

53 video lessons · 9305 viewers

Dennis Taylor
Author

 
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  1. 1m 49s
    1. Welcome
      1m 3s
    2. Using the exercise files
      46s
  2. 22m 7s
    1. Identifying chart elements like plot area, chart area, gridlines, and legends
      5m 3s
    2. Selecting the right chart type
      8m 2s
    3. Understanding chart terminology
      6m 31s
    4. Understanding the Ribbon and the Design, Layout, and Format tabs
      2m 31s
  3. 16m 24s
    1. Selecting data to display as a chart
      6m 17s
    2. Creating charts instantly with shortcuts
      4m 33s
    3. Creating charts with standard menu commands
      2m 24s
    4. Creating presentation-ready charts with just a few adjustments
      3m 10s
  4. 28m 8s
    1. Switching rows and columns for a different view of the data
      3m 9s
    2. Setting a default chart type and creating a template
      3m 47s
    3. Dealing with empty and hidden cells
      4m 18s
    4. Choosing a chart layout
      4m 33s
    5. Choosing a chart style from 48 colorful variations
      3m 34s
    6. Changing the location of a chart
      3m 33s
    7. Moving and resizing a chart
      5m 14s
  5. 11m 25s
    1. Using pictures as chart elements
      3m 55s
    2. Adding shapes and arrows
      3m 37s
    3. Adding floating text and text boxes
      3m 53s
  6. 33m 45s
    1. Adding, editing, and removing chart titles
      3m 15s
    2. Adding horizontal and vertical titles
      3m 56s
    3. Linking titles to content
      2m 32s
    4. Showing numbers of different scales
      4m 38s
    5. Specifying the position of tick marks and axis labels
      2m 41s
    6. Changing the numeric format on labels
      5m 34s
    7. Adding, editing, and removing legends
      3m 19s
    8. Adding and editing data labels
      4m 40s
    9. Showing the source of a chart's data
      3m 10s
  7. 8m 13s
    1. Modifying axis scaling
      3m 50s
    2. Working with gridlines
      4m 23s
  8. 12m 53s
    1. Analyzing existing and future data with trendlines
      4m 2s
    2. Adding drop lines
      3m 14s
    3. Adding high-low lines and up-down bars
      1m 39s
    4. Adding error bars
      3m 58s
  9. 9m 13s
    1. Selecting shape fill and outline
      3m 3s
    2. Adding shape effects
      3m 19s
    3. Applying WordArt styles
      2m 51s
  10. 16m 33s
    1. Formatting lines and borders
      4m 24s
    2. Filling an area with a color gradient
      2m 7s
    3. Specifying line style, color, and weight
      2m 46s
    4. Working with chart text
      3m 40s
    5. Changing the rotation of chart text
      3m 36s
  11. 38m 39s
    1. Using column and bar charts
      7m 24s
    2. Using line charts
      5m 46s
    3. Using pie charts
      8m 37s
    4. Using area, stock, and XY charts
      9m 3s
    5. Using doughnut, bubble, and radar charts
      7m 49s
  12. 10m 55s
    1. Pasting new data into a chart
      2m 58s
    2. Creating charts from multiple data sources
      3m 39s
    3. Adding new data using a table
      4m 18s
  13. 6m 19s
    1. Printing charts
      6m 19s
  14. 19s
    1. Next steps
      19s

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