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Understanding chart terminology

From: Excel 2007: Charts in Depth

Video: Understanding chart terminology

Column and bar charts comprise the bulk of chart types for many Excel users. Understanding the differences between the terms clustered, stacked, and 100% stacked helps you understand how best to use these chart types. The default chart type in Excel, unless you have changed it, is what's called a clustered column chart. I am not sure if that's a term that everybody uses there freely, but this chart to the right of the data here on this worksheet called Column Chart is called a clustered column chart. It is the default.

Understanding chart terminology

Column and bar charts comprise the bulk of chart types for many Excel users. Understanding the differences between the terms clustered, stacked, and 100% stacked helps you understand how best to use these chart types. The default chart type in Excel, unless you have changed it, is what's called a clustered column chart. I am not sure if that's a term that everybody uses there freely, but this chart to the right of the data here on this worksheet called Column Chart is called a clustered column chart. It is the default.

And many, many times it's a good choice. We see clearly what the height of each column, what it refers to. We have got a legend that refers back to the data. We can look there if it's on the same sheet as it is here. Easy to read. But sometimes what we're aiming for is to show the data perhaps not only in a simpler, cleaner look, but also to get information that shows us the total for each month. Now can you tell for sure, would you bet the ranch, is April bigger than February? Yeah, I think it is. It looks like it, but how much, and how clear is it? The chart to the left here, below the data itself, is what's called a stacked column chart and we can see at a glance that April is bigger than February.

It's like April and May are about the same. We could go back to the data to check that out. But the advantage, certainly one of the advantages of a stacked chart, as this example here is, we do see the grand total properly. The downside, for sure, is reading the specific pieces. Now the blue, the example here, represents domestic, and we can compare those columns, their height, pretty readily. We can see the values clearly. But try comparing the greens from month to month, particularly the months that are not next to each other.

Is the January green? That's for Asia entry. Is it bigger than June? Can we tell that clearly? Once we have clicked the chart, we can hover the mouse over it and see that that's 110 for January, and then go slide the green over into June. There is 130, but was that so obvious until we saw the numbers? And over here back on the previous chart, when it's clustered, we do see that breakout. But at different times you're trying to show different kinds of information in the chart. And a third type of chart--and by the way, you will see these not only for column, but you'll also see them for line charts and bar charts, and also area charts, the term clustered again for the basic type, stacked over here to the left and a third type called 100% stacked.

I myself don't use this very often. I don't see them being used a whole lot, but they certainly do have their place, and in many situations they take the place of multiple pie charts. So as you probably could glean from the data here--and let me make this a little clear by actually dragging this chart upward, so that we can see it next to the data. So for the moment, it's overlapping another chart, and now we have got our data off to the left here. So for January, just a glance here, you can see, based on the colors, that Asia has the biggest percent of choice, and we don't necessarily know that number till we point to it and what happens on the chart itself when we point to the green.

It gives us the value but not the percent. In this case, we actually have to look at the chart itself. Now, did I misspeak there or what? Can we see that percent? It's not in the data, so we don't even know what the percentage is. But at least we get some idea of the breakout. So all the January data, which totals 290, this is the breakout percentage-wise. The February total is larger. It's 390 and so the breakout is by percent. So it's not correct to compare, for example, these two green bars here and say automatically that the January entry is bigger.

This is 110 for January, right there, and then to the right of it, this is February. That's 120. So I think you can see the downside of this, and yet at the same time, for any given month by itself, a stacked 100% chart makes sense. So when you are changing chart types, in other words when you selected a chart and you go to the design tab in that left button for changing chart types, you will see, for example, under Column, first choice is called Clustered, second one is called Stacked, third one is called the 100%. Under Line, we see a line chart then we see what, Stacked line, and then we see 100% Stacked line.

And with bar chart, as you might imagine, it's very similar to column. I'm going to go to clustered and stacked, and 100%. And similarly with area: Area chart, Stacked Area, 100% Stacked Area. Another type of chart that you'll see from time to time is 3D, and you recognize a slight difference here. There is something called a 3D clustered column. I'll double-click to make this change right now, and you'll see that look.

And there is another choice under Design > Chart Type called simply 3D Column. Watch the difference here. And I think this is the one that has for some people some initial visual appeal because it's kind of dramatic, and I'm going to press Ctrl+Z to undo, so we can see the previous one and then Ctrl+Y to go back and forth here a little bit, but you can again begin to see why one of these is better than the other for most people, but not necessarily everybody. Back and forth here a little bit. I'd stay away from, not this 3D chart, but the other 3D chart. I think from time to time that's the one that's not as clear as it could be.

But do recognize the standard terminology here that we see in different chart types. If we do switch this to a bar chart, you would think that we might have two corresponding similarities there when it comes to 3D, but there is actually only one that makes sense here. On bar chart you will see, for example, 3D Clustered, but you won't see so-called plain 3D bar chart. So we see this one. That's the only 3D variation for bar charts. So without letting of your knowledge of all these different chart types become too cumbersome here, just do recognize the terms Clustered, Stacked, 100% Stacked, you'll see them from time to time when using column and bar charts--less so with the line charts and area charts, but you'll see them there as well.

So gaining a clear understanding of these terms really helps to master the many uses, particularly of column and bar charts, in Excel.

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This video is part of

Image for Excel 2007: Charts in Depth
Excel 2007: Charts in Depth

53 video lessons · 9320 viewers

Dennis Taylor
Author

 
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  1. 1m 49s
    1. Welcome
      1m 3s
    2. Using the exercise files
      46s
  2. 22m 7s
    1. Identifying chart elements like plot area, chart area, gridlines, and legends
      5m 3s
    2. Selecting the right chart type
      8m 2s
    3. Understanding chart terminology
      6m 31s
    4. Understanding the Ribbon and the Design, Layout, and Format tabs
      2m 31s
  3. 16m 24s
    1. Selecting data to display as a chart
      6m 17s
    2. Creating charts instantly with shortcuts
      4m 33s
    3. Creating charts with standard menu commands
      2m 24s
    4. Creating presentation-ready charts with just a few adjustments
      3m 10s
  4. 28m 8s
    1. Switching rows and columns for a different view of the data
      3m 9s
    2. Setting a default chart type and creating a template
      3m 47s
    3. Dealing with empty and hidden cells
      4m 18s
    4. Choosing a chart layout
      4m 33s
    5. Choosing a chart style from 48 colorful variations
      3m 34s
    6. Changing the location of a chart
      3m 33s
    7. Moving and resizing a chart
      5m 14s
  5. 11m 25s
    1. Using pictures as chart elements
      3m 55s
    2. Adding shapes and arrows
      3m 37s
    3. Adding floating text and text boxes
      3m 53s
  6. 33m 45s
    1. Adding, editing, and removing chart titles
      3m 15s
    2. Adding horizontal and vertical titles
      3m 56s
    3. Linking titles to content
      2m 32s
    4. Showing numbers of different scales
      4m 38s
    5. Specifying the position of tick marks and axis labels
      2m 41s
    6. Changing the numeric format on labels
      5m 34s
    7. Adding, editing, and removing legends
      3m 19s
    8. Adding and editing data labels
      4m 40s
    9. Showing the source of a chart's data
      3m 10s
  7. 8m 13s
    1. Modifying axis scaling
      3m 50s
    2. Working with gridlines
      4m 23s
  8. 12m 53s
    1. Analyzing existing and future data with trendlines
      4m 2s
    2. Adding drop lines
      3m 14s
    3. Adding high-low lines and up-down bars
      1m 39s
    4. Adding error bars
      3m 58s
  9. 9m 13s
    1. Selecting shape fill and outline
      3m 3s
    2. Adding shape effects
      3m 19s
    3. Applying WordArt styles
      2m 51s
  10. 16m 33s
    1. Formatting lines and borders
      4m 24s
    2. Filling an area with a color gradient
      2m 7s
    3. Specifying line style, color, and weight
      2m 46s
    4. Working with chart text
      3m 40s
    5. Changing the rotation of chart text
      3m 36s
  11. 38m 39s
    1. Using column and bar charts
      7m 24s
    2. Using line charts
      5m 46s
    3. Using pie charts
      8m 37s
    4. Using area, stock, and XY charts
      9m 3s
    5. Using doughnut, bubble, and radar charts
      7m 49s
  12. 10m 55s
    1. Pasting new data into a chart
      2m 58s
    2. Creating charts from multiple data sources
      3m 39s
    3. Adding new data using a table
      4m 18s
  13. 6m 19s
    1. Printing charts
      6m 19s
  14. 19s
    1. Next steps
      19s

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