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In this course, Dennis Taylor shows how to analyze and communicate the value of data with charts in Excel. The course starts with the foundations: what the parts of a chart are, what the different types of charts are, and which charts work best for your data. The course then shows how to create a presentation-ready chart in minutes and offers dozens of in-depth tutorials on formatting and fine-tuning charts so they represent data clearly and accurately.
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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