Join Dennis Taylor for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating charts, part of Excel Essential Training (Office 365).
- Creating a chart in Excel, which is nothing other than a visual representation of numeric data, is surprisingly easy, and you can quickly embellish it with a variety of visual effects. And let's be clear, the term we use is chart. You might call it a graph, but officially and formally in Excel we talk about charts. And we're about to create one with this set of data right here, starting in columns D through I. Before creating a chart, highlight the data that you want to show. And it must include some values, otherwise, you'll have pretty much of an empty chart.
If you do have totals next to your data, leave them off. Totals and details don't work so well together. Always include the row that you typically have on top of the data that describes each column, and the column that you typically have on the left side that describes each row. And if you're in a hurry, you can use a great keystroke shortcut combination, Alt + F1. That's using the function key F1. Alt + F1 immediately creates what we call a clustered column chart. These vertical columns, remind yourself, is a column chart.
And to be a little bit more specific, a cluster column chart. As soon as you see the chart, you might notice at the top of the screen, we've got a new ribbon, Chart Tools, with two contextual tabs: a Design tab, the more important of the two, and a Format tab. Format has a lot to do with fine-tuning of the visuals. Design has some important buttons on it that we'll see. And your eye is probably already attracted to these choices here. I'm sliding over these, not clicking. And we see lots of different variations here.
It kind of makes you look like a pro in no time at all. That really stands out. How did you do that? Well, didn't take too long, did it? And there's a drop arrow here and there's even more of them. So, sometimes we'll gravitate toward these. I'll just pick one of these. The black one certainly stands out, on the left. I'll click and move that. And we can easily change to another one if we wish. To move a chart, you either click and drag any of its borders, or just inside the border move it to where you wish. If you'd like to resize it and keep that same ratio of height to width, point to one of the corner handles, they're called, there are also some on the sides.
I'm holding down the left mouse button, so I can make this chart narrower or wider, tall, I can go anywhere I want, but if I hold down the Shift key, I'm making it bigger or smaller while retaining that same ration of height to width. And sometimes you wanna do that. Let go of the mouse first. If you want the boundaries of the chart to line up with the cell boundaries in the background, take one of these corner handles, hold down the Alt key, let go of the mouse first, and maybe do it from the opposite corner. And not truly necessary, but sometimes you might want to consider doing that. So an Alt drag causes the boundaries of the chart to match up with the cell boundaries in the background.
And that's one of many different chart types, as we'll see in the next movie. Now, I got some other data over here. I'm gonna highlight this. If I want a chart on a separate sheet, the keystroke shortcut F11. Keep your eye on the sheet tabs at the bottom. We're currently on the creating sheets. We are currently looking at the sheet called 'Creating Charts' in this workbook '07 Charting.' As I press the function key F11, suddenly we're on a new sheet and there's a chart. Now, we have the same features available at the design tab, a format tab, but we're not seeing our data.
The advantage could be you're focused strictly on the chart, you're gonna make some changes, change the appearance of it, that sort of thing. You're not looking at the data at all, and maybe you'll be printing this or displaying this by itself. I think there's probably aa tendency to maybe have the chart next to the data, but either way, I'll go back to 'Creating Charts,' and we've got our data here. A more standard way to create a chart, by way of the menu system, is, with the data highlighted, we go to the insert tab in the ribbon. We could start with recommended charts, and I think this is a great button because when you click this, you get some ideas as to how your data could be displayed.
Here are four examples. And as you see these too, you start to become familiar with some of the names that we see here. So we can pick one of these here, maybe this one is gonna look better. Try that. Looks good. Click OK. There's a chart. And here too we might wanna resize it. It's all a question how many of these charts you wanna have on the same sheet and where do you wanna put them. So it's easy to create these. And there's another way to create a chart. When you highlight a list of data that includes numbers, like this, what pops up on the lower right-hand corner is quick analysis button, Click it, there's charts. And we see some choices here.
And we can go down that path if we wanted to. And there's another way. As you become more familiar with these, you will go to the insert tab and pick the chart type that you know you want from the beginning. And there's more about chart types in the next movie. So, this is an appealing feature. Keep in mind, too, this idea. A chart is always in sync with the data. So, on this chart here, this chart that's based on the data over in columns A and B. If the data somehow got recorded incorrectly, and this number for den here should've been three million instead of two million, I'm gonna double-click in cell B11 and change that initial two to be a three.
And as I press Enter you'll see this den bar to the right here gets substantially wider. And there it is. So, It's always in sync with the data. It's a good visual representation of the data. And in some cases, you'll see that this works even better when you're dealing with large amounts of data. Although, often charts are dealing with small amounts. So it's a great feature. Relatively easy to use. And it's got tons of options. So, any time you wanna display numerical information in a more graphic way, you'll be using the chart feature.
- Working with the Excel interface
- Entering data
- Creating formulas and functions
- Formatting your data
- Adjusting rows and columns
- Finding and replacing data
- Inserting and deleting sheets
- Sorting and filtering data
- Creating charts and PivotTables
- Printing and sharing worksheets
- Protecting worksheets and workbooks
Skill Level Beginner
Q: This course was updated on 1/7/2019. What changed?
A: A new video was added that covers working with Excel Ideas.