Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
With mixed data containing widely divergent values, like we see here, charts can appear distorted and illegible. Now we haven't seen the chart just yet, but take a look at those numbers in columns B and C. They're pretty far apart and trying to show both of those in the same charts is going to be a little strange unless we adjust this. They're used to be a feature in prior versions of Excel called a Combination Chart and what we're about to see is in fact a replacement of it. Let's imagine you're in a hurry. You wanted to see this information depicted as a chart.
It's all contiguous. There is no other information nearby. We could simply click on a single cell in here and press Alt+F1, and we're going to get a default column chart. There it is. Right away of course you would be a little dismayed. If you look very, very closely--and it's perhaps not viewable as you're watching it-- the miles per gallon in this chart are showing up in very faint red columns at the bottom, just above the months here. We can't see them, and of course when you look at the numbers you begin to think about it, well, that makes sense. We've got columns here representing numbers almost as high as 9,000, and the miles per gallon are the numbers in the 20s and 30s, and so on.
So what do we need to do here? Ideally, we like to change those so that they're taller columns, but come to think of it, how can we read those? What we actually have to do is to select the other range. Now this is one of the rare times when you can't click a range to make a change. The general rule of thumb throughout Excel is if you want to change something, you click it, and then you make a menu choice that will allow you to change it. So, if we click on this column, of course we could then explore a lot of different Layout options, Design options, Format options, but how do we click on miles per gallon? We might click down here and not quite get there.
So this is one of those rare times when we need to go to the Layout tab, the extreme left button. The group is called Current Selection and you'll see a drop arrow, and it may or may not say Plot Area. It could say something else, but when you click the drop arrow, you will, in effect, see all selectable elements in this chart, and what we're looking for this series MPG, so let's click it. And now it looks a little funny here, we've selected that series. So what do we want to do with this now? We want to format the current selection.
So on the left-hand side there, under Current Selection, we've chosen the MPG. Let's do Format Selection and now--and maybe by default, but maybe not so obvious the first time around--we want to plot this series on a secondary axis. Let me move this over a little bit. We're talking about on the right-hand side of the chart to have a different axis that'll allow us to read the miles per gallon. Secondary axis, and as soon as we do that, we see what's happening on the screen there. The miles per gallon are now represented by red columns, and we read those off the secondary axis, which is on the right-hand side.
But I think it's pretty apparent this isn't quite where we want to be just yet. What happened in October, for example, November, December? We can read the miles per gallon, but we can't read the miles driven. So, the next step here is to actually take the miles per gallon series, which is currently selected, and let's change the chart type to be a line chart for the miles per gallon. So on the Design tab in the Ribbon, leftmost choice, Change Chart Type, and let's simply choose Line with markers, this one right here.
You can double-click this to make it slightly faster. There we go. Now we're pretty much in shape. We don't need the Format Chart Area dialog box anymore. It may require just a brief explanation, but we can see now for this set of data here the miles driven each month, which presumably represents cars, trucks, deliver trucks, whatever. We see that being represented by the blue columns, and we are reading off the left-hand primary vertical axis. If we're trying to figure out what the miles per gallon are for a given month, we read the red markers that are associated with the red line, miles per gallon, but we're reading off the right side for the secondary vertical axis and we see in the legend on the right-hand side what's happening.
There will be times when you need to track data of widely different scope, as we see here, and this is one way to achieve this. Now, you had been using the Combination Choice in prior versions of Excel. This is in effect its replacement. So we don't see the word 'combination' here at all anymore, but the technique we went through here is fairly fast and efficient, and you can mix different kinds of chart types as well, too. I think the most common kind of mixing of chart types within a single chart is the mix of column and line the way we see it here.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.
Your file was successfully uploaded.