Join Dennis Taylor for an in-depth discussion in this video Tips for creating charts quickly, part of Excel Tips Weekly.
- [Instructor] Despite the fact that Excel's charting capability has many, many options and choices, you can create a chart very quickly with just a few keystroke shortcuts and some minor adjustments. On this worksheet here, I'd like to create a chart based on the data here. Including the labels on the top and on the left-hand side. I don't want to include the totals. And I'm in a hurry. Two quick keystroke shortcuts allow us to create charts. For a chart on a separate sheet, simply press the function key F11 after you've highlighted the data.
And there we see a chart on a new sheet, just to the left of the worksheet than contains the data. There's that contextual Design tab, and Format tab with lots of options relating to charts. You might want to print the chart from here. If you're making a presentation with the chart, you might want to do this here without showing the data. I think it's more likely though that you'd like to have a chart on the same sheet as the source data. So going back to this sheet, the data's still highlighted. We can create a chart right here on the worksheet by pressing Alt + F1, function key F1.
Alt + F1, and there's a chart. And looking pretty good. And notice here too, we see those same contextual tabs Design and Format. If you want to make the charts stand out a little bit more prominently, maybe the one with a dark gray background like this one. You can certainly explore the others, and there's a dropper over to the right too. I'm going to choose the one with a black background. And to move the chart, you usually click just withinside the border. Drag it around, something like that. Looking pretty good. I think it's pretty apparent though, if you were making a presentation with this information, you don't want to see Chart Title right here.
Now, I can start typing a new title if I want, but since I've selected that panel that says Chart Title, I'm going to do something different. I want to pick up the data from cell A1. Now that happens to be a merged cell, that's not a prerequisite, it's also not a detriment in an way. I'll simply press =, and click that cell and Enter. We can pick up the data that way. I'd also like to have a title down the left-hand side and below. So a quick way to get there is by way of the Quick Layout option.
It's on the left side of this Design tab. And at first it's not obvious what these choices mean. But as I start to slide over them, take a look at the chart, you can see what's happening. So we can see all kinds of variations here. Some of these give us placeholders for the title below, and to the right, or to the left. The legend gets moved around in some of these cases. One of them even shows the source data. So lots of choices here. I'm going to choose the one called Layout 9 right here. Notice that there's a placeholder down the left-hand side for an axis title, also below the data.
The legend is on the right side now, I prefer this one. Click, and axis title down the left-hand side I don't want to type in Total Sales - Millions of Dollars. But I do want to pick up that information. So I'll type =, and click on that cell. That too is a merged cell, but it's not a prerequisite. Press Enter, axis title down below I want to pick up the data from cell A13. So I've selected axis title, type =. Click on cell A13, and Enter.
And there we see it. And that might be it, I don't need anything else going on here. I'll move it around perhaps a little bit, looks good. I'll leave it that way. By the way, a slight oddity here, nothing too major, but the title down the left-hand side is all uppercase, whereas the source data itself, right here, is in upper and lowercase. That's just a variation based on the fact that some of the design choices here do use upper and lowercase in different ways. And so as I slide over some of these choices here, as you keep an eye on that axis label down the left-hand side, you see how it might look a little different.
I'm not too concerned with that, so I'll simply keep it. Now there's another situation that you might run into from time to time. And I've got some examples here on another sheet that we need to see. I've got some data here, and the source data here for the chart is all of this data right here. Now, since that's surrounded by empty cells, I don't even have to highlight the data. So I'm going to click withinside the data here and press Alt + F1. And that looks pretty good, until we start to look a little bit more closely. As I point to the left column here, it says Value 2011.
The next blue column over, the light-blue column, Value 2012, and the next one 2013. So it quickly becomes apparent that Excel has mistakenly used the data in column A. Now, in the data down below here, same kind of situation. Here, it's going to be a lot more obvious. So clicking within the data below related to states, I'll press Alt + F1, and here it's really obvious. Let's get rid of that. So how do we clean up charts like this? There are two ways, the longer way involves two steps.
One is I'm going to click that left column, or any of the columns here, so that all the blue columns, the light-blue columns representing years are highlighted. And I'll press delete. That cleans up the unnecessary columns, but the numbers across the bottom one through six are certainly not helpful, what could we do there? Right-click, Select Data, Edit the labels. And for the axis label range, I'll simply highlight these cells here. And already that's looking good, click OK, and OK.
And now we're all set. But, it's even easier than that. And the way we do this is simply to start over. So, I'm going to delete the chart, press Delete key. This time I'll get rid of the word Country. In other words, the cell in the upper-left hand corner I'll simply delete. And now I'll click within the data, I'll press Alt + F1, and we're all set. We'll get the title in later, but the columns are all there, and no unnecessary ones. And the labeling across the bottom is just fine. And similarly, in the list down below, if we want a chart based on this data here, erase the word State, click within the data, Alt + F1.
Good looking chart. If we want the word State there, let's put it in later. And I do it there, and the same thing with Country. And it will not effect the chart, as we've seen here with the example. So, some quick ideas for creating a chart. Remember, simply select the data that you want. If it's surrounded by empty cells, you don't even have to select the data. Then press Alt + F1 to get a chart on the same sheet. By the way, in this example here, if I click within the data and press Alt + F1, I will get those total numbers as well. Probably something I wouldn't want.
So get rid of that chart. But in other respects, we saw the various shortcuts. Alt + F1 is the one you want to remember, the idea that you've selected data. Press Alt + F1, you get a chart on the same sheet. And take it from there to adjust the titles. Quick techniques for making charting simple and easy.
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