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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.
Of all the many buttons available to you on the Design tab once you've selected a chart is a not-so-obvious button, third from the left, called Switch Row/Column. This has to do with what we call the orientation of the chart. The chart that's highlighted, the one roughly across columns H through N here, is based on the data that we see over in columns A, B, C, and D. And nothing wrong with the chart, really. It lacks a few items of explanatory information, and it's a typical-looking chart that we see when we highlight data and, whether we create a quickly or from the menu, a column chart.
Now what does Switch Row/Column do? Let's click it, and you'll see what happens. The data is oriented quite a bit differently in this example here. Let me switch it again. You can go back and forth; it's a toggle switch. The initial display shows each cluster of columns in this group representing a different month, and of course we're talking about Domestic, Europe, and Asia for each little cluster. And I think for many people this would be an ideal way to display this information. Why Switch Row/Column? Well, perhaps you never thought of this kind of display. Now I'm not necessarily saying its better.
In fact, I would probably say it's not as good because the legend on the right-hand side has twelve different colors in it. But it does point out with certain kinds of data, changing the orientation by way of the Switch Row/Column button does give us a different perspective on this data. I recommend it as something you do all the time, even though many times you'll see a display that's not very enticing or very much better, and sometimes a lot worse that what you already have. But now when we look at the data, we see what's happening. For example, under Domestic, we see the trend going up and down. Same thing in Europe, maybe a little more consistent. Maybe in Asia even more consistent. That tells us something.
And once again not necessarily better that what we saw before. And as you try this with different charts, and once you begin to get used to it, there is another chart down here. This is a stacked column chart. I don't think this is going to look better, but let's try this as well. Switch Row/Column and we see what's happening this way. This does tells us at a glance--which we probably already knew anyway--that Domestic has a larger share than the other two regions, but once again we have the issue of 12 separate colors. Let me change the nature of this chart though by suggesting that maybe instead of, as I click the chart here and go back to the data, suppose we're only showing the first six months here.
So I'm going to simply make this show the first six months, and we see the result. And of course we are just seeing that first half the year there. Switch Row/Column. With only six items in the legend, this isn't quite so unrevealing as the previous chart was. So as we look at the data here, we see the breakup. Here is a Line chart and here-- nearly always when you try this for the line chart you'll see usually not an acceptable alternative, Particularly on a line chart where we have gotten used to the general idea that usually we're talking about data flowing over a period of months or days or hours, weeks, whatever, any time period. This doesn't really make a lot of sense and not a good choice.
But again, use this button freely. It's so easy to use. It gives you a different, and sometimes more revealing, perspective on the source data that you're trying to show on a chart.
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