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Using column and bar charts

From: Excel 2007: Charts in Depth

Video: Using column and bar charts

Column charts and bar charts are probably the most commonly used charts by most Excel users. On the screen here we're seeing four variations on column charts. Now many of the kinds of adjustments you might want to make to a column chart also apply to a bar chart, so let's talk about some of the things they have in common, and eventually I want to point out why you might want to use a bar chart instead of a column chart. Below the data here, we see probably the most common kind of chart. It's called a Clustered Column Chart.

Using column and bar charts

Column charts and bar charts are probably the most commonly used charts by most Excel users. On the screen here we're seeing four variations on column charts. Now many of the kinds of adjustments you might want to make to a column chart also apply to a bar chart, so let's talk about some of the things they have in common, and eventually I want to point out why you might want to use a bar chart instead of a column chart. Below the data here, we see probably the most common kind of chart. It's called a Clustered Column Chart.

To the right of it, also fairly popular, a Stacked Column Chart. Below that, not so commonly used, but occasionally, 100% Stacked Column Chart. Now, in looking at the data, for example the Clustered Chart below the data, if there is some explanation that needs to be added here, we might want to change the axis. That's covered in another movie. That's certainly one of things we want to change, but also the spacing between the columns here and there might be something you want to do. And in any of these three charts here, we can right-click on any series as I'm doing right now, choosing Format Data Series.

I'm about to change the Gap Width. If I drag this leftward and keep an on that chart below the data, see what's happened. There is no gap at all between the clusters of months there. Dragging it in the other direction, quite a bit more. And again, half the time you don't even think about it maybe, but it's there to be adjusted if you wish. If I switch to the regional chart to the right of the data here and were to right-click on one of those series, Format Data Series, watch what happens in the gap here. And you can see that.

And again, it's your choice. In either chart too, you might want to consider Overlapped versus Separated. And here you're seeing something that's a bit unusual, and this will look different under Clustered Charts than it we're here under Stacked Chart, but that too for somehow bringing out the data a little bit differently, you've got it your disposal as well too, so there are some options there. Dragging that back and forth to see how it looks and adjusting the Gap Width as needed. Going back to the Clustered Chart again, right-clicking on one of the series.

Here Overlap has a different meaning as we format the data series. Overlapped here I think you're less likely to want to use. You can see what's happening to the columns here. Whichever column is in front, is going to get more attention, probably, than the others. And you wouldn't want this 100% Overlap because then you couldn't quite see the detail behind it. But those are the changes we want to make at different times as we work with these chart types as well too. Another possible option that you might want to use here in a Stacked Chart is comparing two consecutive months, this piece of Asia for January.

Here's another piece. Now if the numbers are nearby, we can go to look at them, but another option-- and you could enter this from the Design tab, under Chart Layouts--at least one of the options here shows lines connecting the series, like this, and this may or may not help you. I would possibly get rid of the gridlines here at the same time. But again, that occasionally might help you read those pieces a little bit better. As you point to them, you also see the values too. That helps. The 3D chart to the right exhibits another problem.

If you look at the series order-- Domestic, Europe, Asia, Latin America-- it's exactly the way it is in the actual data in rows 5 through 8. And yet on the chart, the Europe series, which is reddish, is behind the green, which is Asia. We can't see it so well. If you right-click on one of the series, you might think that you would go to the Format Data Series, but that won't help. It's Select Data. And here we see over in the left-hand side, the four entries. The word Order doesn't appear here, but I'm going to click on Europe, click the drop arrow here, and you see what happened to the chart. The series of red columns that represent Europe moved forward.

And you can begin to experiment with these, move these back and forth a little bit. I'm using Domestic right now. Obviously, I don't want these choices, but back and forth, you can see what's happening. Now that in no way alters the original data, but it changes the legend and the display of the order here. And you can do this on the other three kinds of charts as well, and it is something you want to be able to do from time to time. And I think it makes sense now. Now that's much, much more readable. Now, because this is a 3D chart, the other thing you might want to do at different times--and this could take some time--is if you right-click on one of the series here and go to Format Data Series, you'll also see in the dialog box here 3D Format.

You see all kinds of variations here as well. If you click on the chart area, you will see 3D Rotation in that dialog box. And here, by clicking the arrow to the right of X, this currently says 210, so I'm clicking this arrow. You see what's happening to the chart, move this way or that way. And this one here, it's hard to describe this in words, but you can immediately see what's happening to the display of the chart. Once again, 3D column charts are very appealing, at least initially, but they are difficult to read.

They're only good, I think, in showing relative size, certainly not exact size. What's the height of that column? If you point to it, you can see it, but would you ever guess what it really is? Try Perspective too. That changes the look of it. So you can certainly change the look of these in a variety of ways using all these different arrows here. By the way, if you hold down the left mouse button, you'll go through continuous changes like this and get some pretty weird things at times too. But at least you can make those adjustments. Now, all the things that we've done here similarly would apply to bar charts as well.

But there are times when a bar chart might make a little bit more sense. And to the right here, I've got some different data, say this data right here. I'm going to create a chart quickly simply by clicking on one of the cells and pressing Alt+F1, and the automatic default chart type of a Clustered Column will appear. I'll move over a little bit and move the chart. And I think you can see that that's not so great. We have difficulty reading the labels. We're getting every other one, and they're angled, not that that's horrible, but eventually by making this wider, we would see the choices.

Now, how might this look as a bar chart? On the Design tab, left button, Change Chart Type. Let's make this be a clustered bar chart. First choice, double-click. And I think for a lot of people that's a better choice than what we just saw. I'm going to press Ctrl+Z, meaning Undo, to go back to the previous choice, and then Ctrl+Y. I think in situations where you have longer labels, as we do here--some of the names of those departments are large-- this might be a better choice because it's easier to read. And you can certainly tighten up the Gap Width if you want.

That's a different selection, but I think it makes some sense here. And a lot of times the difference between column and bar is just personal choice, or maybe you simply have to match up the design of a chart with the way charts had been done in the past. So, simple and easy. And with all of these, remember, the Chart Styles option sometimes gives you a slightly fancier look to some of these too. Maybe you'd like that a little bit better. And we can go down in that of course for all the other chart types we've talked about here as well. So column and bar charts widely used by most Excel users can be modified in a number of different ways.

And much of the time, it's simply a tossup as to which one you like better, except perhaps in the case of longer labels.

Show transcript

This video is part of

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

53 video lessons · 9226 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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