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Charts are great tools for data analysis and Excel has a very robust charting package built-in. You also might not always know which chart to use for which purpose. First of all, why even use a chart? Well, which is easier to understand? Dry data like this or a colorful column chart like this? Now column charts are great when you have a lot of data to look at. And let's take a look at this chart here. We can see right off the bat that three states here, Maryland, Vermont and New York, usually have fairly high numbers.
But something happened in this second quarter where Vermont and New York still have high numbers but something happened to Maryland where the numbers aren't quite so high. On the other hand, New Jersey usually has some kind of mid-level numbers but also in the second quarter something happened where New Jersey has higher numbers than usual. Now this chart doesn't tell us why it happened but it does make those numbers stand out. Excel also creates pie charts, and pie charts are great for comparing totals. If you watched the movie in this course on absolute references, we took a grand total and we split it up into component parts by percentage.
Well that's kind of what a pie chart is. We have a whole and we've split it up into its components. And by having a nice color chart, three -dimensional, one piece pulled out, it makes the numbers and it makes the information stand out a lot more. Excel also does a good job with line charts. Line charts are good for identifying trends over time. And here we have lines going across three quarters of the year and we can see what's going up and what's going down. Excel also has a type of line chart called Sparklines and they are new in the 2010 version.
And these are miniature charts that fit in a cell. I like to think of Sparklines as thumbnail charts for thumbnail analysis. And Excel does a whole lot more than that and let's take a look at a few.
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