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Exploring chart types

From: Excel 2013 Essential Training

Video: Exploring chart types

Excel has over 50 different chart types, so it's not always clear which chart is best for the kind of data you're trying to show. We're using the sheet called Chart Types, let's select the data over in columns A and B and simply press Alt+F1, a quick way to create a chart. This gives us a Column Chart. Is this the best way to display this data? When you create a chart, recognize that the Chart Tools ribbon is activated, and we've got a Design tab and a Format tab at the top of the screen.

Exploring chart types

Excel has over 50 different chart types, so it's not always clear which chart is best for the kind of data you're trying to show. We're using the sheet called Chart Types, let's select the data over in columns A and B and simply press Alt+F1, a quick way to create a chart. This gives us a Column Chart. Is this the best way to display this data? When you create a chart, recognize that the Chart Tools ribbon is activated, and we've got a Design tab and a Format tab at the top of the screen.

Off to the right we see a choice called Change Chart Type. We can easily get a preview here of what this chart might look like, if for example it were a Bar Chart. Click here, we see some examples of that, we can slide over it, would this be better as a Pie Chart or how about a Line Chart? We can get a quick preview here and decide what looks best. If our starting data is multi- dimensional, like the data in column D, we get more choices here and more previews, so let's escape from this option. Recognize that this might be the best chart for the data we're seeing over in columns A and B. Let's move this down below for the moment we might come back to it later.

Let's select this data here. Once again, press Alt+F1 for a quick chart selection. When you're creating charts, consider this possibility. Sometimes, the data looks better in separate columns as it is here, and when you're working with Column Charts, those are the vertical ones like what we see here or Bar Charts, the horizontal variation of these, clustering is the first choice, this may or may not be your best choice. If we change the chart type, we might change this to a Clustered Column.

The advantage here is it simplifies the look of the chart, but on the other hand, if you're trying to read for example, the southeast entries, those are the green portions of the columns, you can't follow them from month-to-month so easily. You have got some other options out here as well that you might explore. Sometimes, you'll see a 3D Stacked Column, and as we move to the right, different variations on that, and then another variation like this. This might have some visual appeal, but it might be kind of hard to read too; but we certainly have easy access to the different chart types.

If you only use charting occasionally, I think the best approach is to stick with perhaps only four major types here: Column, Line, Pie, and Bar. Pie is, by the way, somewhat specialized as we'll see. So, let's say Column and Bar are certainly common choices. You've seen these in magazines, newspapers, television, they're commonly used. Now, with certain kinds of data, if you're trying to emphasize volume, perhaps Columns and Bars are the best, but again, sometimes it's just a judgment call.

Let's escape from here and move this over a bit, and consider the data in columns K through P. In this data here, we've got the same kinds of choices. Let's not include the totals, just the data here, and possibly getting a preview this time by way of the Insert Tab-- Recommended Charts--what are some of the examples that we might want to consider here? We can move the Title bar, the dialogue box, over to get a sense. If we're trying to show a trend, there's probably no better chart type than a Line Chart. And these are universally recognized because our eye tends to follow the lines from left to right; nothing wrong with a Column Chart here.

There's another kind of chart here called a Stacked Area Chart. Maybe that displays the trend pretty well. We can certainly see a trend emerging here, at least in terms of the totals. But if it's a Line Chart, looks pretty good here, let's go with that option; and we can move these around too. Now, recognize that when you do choose Chart Types too, there's an option here that is not very obvious, and sometimes it brings us an interesting alternative, but with a Line Chart, we'll see how well this works. Switch Row/Column, not an obvious choice to make.

I think in this case, it's a horrible choice, click it again. If you've got data that deals with times--for example Months here, or Years, or even Hours in some cases-- Line Charts tend to work best there. Now, again, that option that we have here on the Design Tab of Switching Row/Column, I think in this case is not a good one, but with the other data here let's scroll here to move the chart over. Move this chart all the way temporarily. The chart to the right is depicting our data right here.

Let's select this chart and then Switch Row/Column. Now, here's an interesting variation. This shows columns differently. Each cluster of columns here is about a region. Earlier, it was about a product. Let's go back and switch that again--Switch Row Column. I use this feature all the time, not because I'm always looking for a better chart necessarily, but the difference in the two--and we can bounce back and forth if we wish--sometimes is interesting and sometimes we end up saying, "let's have both of these".

So one possibility might be, we could just shrink this a bit, move it over here, and make a copy of it or create a brand new chart, either way. How can we make a copy of a chart? We can simply drag a chart with the Ctrl key held down, let go of the mouse, we made a copy of the chart. Let's change this chart here. On the Design Tab, we'll Switch Row/Column. Let's say for the moment, we'll put them side by side, but now we can see the two charts together. What we're saying here is it's not always the case that you want to see both charts, but recognize that we have this quick ability, by using Switch Row/Column, here to get different kinds of charts.

One or the other might be better. We'll choose just one, fine, or maybe both. As we work with different kinds of data, that's an option you want to explore. Now, if you do want to try a Pie Chart--it makes sense sometimes-- usually, they work best if you have only a single column or row of data. A strange thing will happen if, for example, we take this data here and try and create a Pie Chart. Insert Tab, here are the Pie choices, right here, click here. How about a 3-D Pie? It sounds good. That looks pretty good in the background there, let's keep it.

But it's got the title NE on it. So what did it do? It really only used this first column, even though this data was highlighted. So there are some serious shortcomings in terms of the amount of data that can be displayed in a Pie Chart. Recognize this oddity too, what if one of these numbers was negative? I'm going to make this to be -100. Watch the Pie Chart. Obviously, the wedge changed, but as you slide over the wedge--as I'm doing right here--it's displaying this as if it were a positive number. And the more you think about it, it would sound kind of strange to say we've got a negative piece of pie, but oddly enough, if you have got negative data, it's just a terrible candidate; it doesn't even fit here.

I'm surprised that Excel even allows us to create a chart, where we have got a negative entry here. So, I'm going to press Ctrl+Z to undo that, but be careful with that idea. If you're using a Pie Chart, it's got to be all positive data to make any sense. You can only really do this with a single row or a single column of data. The column AB combination does make good sense. If we want to get a breakout here of how these various locations for our sales are occurring-if we want to get a breakout here of the items in a Pie Chart-- simply select this data--Insert>Pie-- there's our 3-D Pie; and that's a good visual depiction of how our sales have broken out.

You can also, eventually, add percentages and other tools here as well. So in this move, we've seen a variety of different chart types. If you only use the feature occasionally, I strongly recommend sticking with Column, Bar, Line, and Pie. These are the most widely used charts, and the best charts for depicting data most of the time.

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This video is part of

Image for Excel 2013 Essential Training
Excel 2013 Essential Training

82 video lessons · 74776 viewers

Dennis Taylor
Author

 
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  1. 1m 6s
    1. Welcome
      43s
    2. Using the exercise files
      23s
  2. 29m 37s
    1. What is Excel used for?
      1m 49s
    2. Using the menu system
      4m 30s
    3. The Quick Access Toolbar
      4m 41s
    4. The structure of a worksheet or workbook
      3m 41s
    5. Using the Formula bar
      1m 43s
    6. Using the Status bar
      2m 24s
    7. Navigation and mouse pointers
      2m 20s
    8. Shortcut menus and the Mini toolbar
      3m 24s
    9. Using the built-in help
      2m 54s
    10. Creating new files
      2m 11s
  3. 24m 1s
    1. Exploring data entry and editing techniques
      4m 41s
    2. Entering data with AutoFill
      4m 6s
    3. Working with dates and times
      3m 32s
    4. Using Undo and Redo
      4m 50s
    5. Adding comments
      2m 55s
    6. Using Save or Save As
      3m 57s
  4. 30m 7s
    1. Creating simple formulas: Totals and averages
      5m 25s
    2. Copying a formula for adjacent cells
      2m 54s
    3. Calculating year-to-date profits
      3m 9s
    4. Creating a percentage-increase formula
      4m 7s
    5. Working with relative, absolute, and mixed references
      4m 7s
    6. Using SUM and AVERAGE
      3m 25s
    7. Using other common functions
      7m 0s
  5. 46m 7s
    1. Exploring font styles and effects
      4m 7s
    2. Adjusting row heights and column widths
      3m 37s
    3. Working with alignment and Wrap Text
      4m 2s
    4. Designing borders
      3m 26s
    5. Exploring numeric and special formatting
      5m 36s
    6. Formatting numbers and dates
      4m 31s
    7. Conditional formatting
      4m 21s
    8. Creating and using tables
      9m 59s
    9. Inserting shapes, arrows, and other visual features
      6m 28s
  6. 20m 40s
    1. Inserting and deleting rows and columns
      4m 52s
    2. Hiding and unhiding rows and columns
      4m 2s
    3. Moving, copying, and inserting data
      5m 42s
    4. Finding and replacing data
      6m 4s
  7. 17m 51s
    1. Exploring the Page Layout tab and view
      7m 20s
    2. Previewing page breaks
      4m 56s
    3. Working with Page Setup and printing controls
      5m 35s
  8. 30m 30s
    1. Creating charts
      4m 36s
    2. Exploring chart types
      7m 47s
    3. Formatting charts
      5m 42s
    4. Working with axes, labels, gridlines, and other chart elements
      5m 35s
    5. Creating in-cell charts with sparklines
      6m 50s
  9. 12m 49s
    1. Freezing and unfreezing panes
      2m 39s
    2. Splitting screens horizontally and vertically
      4m 48s
    3. Showing necessary information with the Outlining feature
      5m 22s
  10. 23m 0s
    1. Displaying multiple worksheets and workbooks
      4m 17s
    2. Renaming, inserting, and deleting sheets
      2m 23s
    3. Moving, copying, and grouping sheets
      3m 39s
    4. Using formulas to link worksheets and workbooks
      6m 1s
    5. Locating and maintaining links
      6m 40s
  11. 20m 25s
    1. Using IF functions and relational operators
      3m 43s
    2. Getting approximate table data with the VLOOKUP function
      7m 6s
    3. Getting exact table data with the VLOOKUP function
      4m 42s
    4. Using the COUNTIF family of functions
      4m 54s
  12. 23m 50s
    1. Unlocking cells and protecting worksheets
      7m 50s
    2. Protecting workbooks
      2m 40s
    3. Assigning passwords to workbooks
      4m 41s
    4. Sharing workbooks
      4m 7s
    5. Tracking changes
      4m 32s
  13. 28m 32s
    1. Sorting data
      6m 9s
    2. Inserting subtotals in a sorted list
      8m 25s
    3. Using filters
      6m 16s
    4. Splitting data into multiple columns
      5m 4s
    5. Removing duplicate records
      2m 38s
  14. 35m 2s
    1. Creating PivotTables
      8m 36s
    2. Manipulating PivotTable data
      9m 47s
    3. Grouping by date and time
      6m 0s
    4. Grouping by other factors
      2m 33s
    5. Using slicers to clarify and manipulate fields
      4m 7s
    6. Using PivotCharts
      3m 59s
  15. 23m 29s
    1. Using Goal Seek
      6m 8s
    2. Using Solver
      6m 34s
    3. Using Scenario Manager
      6m 11s
    4. Using Data Tables
      4m 36s
  16. 24m 31s
    1. Definition and examples
      6m 48s
    2. Creating a simple macro
      7m 0s
    3. Running a macro
      10m 43s
  17. 29s
    1. Next steps
      29s

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