Microsoft Excel is the perfect application for people who wish to store, manage, analyze and present large amounts of data easily and efficiently. Many different built-in features such as formulas, filtering, sorting, searching etc along with tables and charts make Excel the widely accepted and most used spreadsheet application. The interesting fact is that even most of the advanced excel users are not exploiting its full potential.
Charting is one of the major features of Excel that helps users to present data in graphical format. Studies have already proven that visualization is the only easy method that makes our brains receive and understand large amounts of data. So, data visualization is really powerful and effective especially in terms of understandability and communication. In other words, data represented in pictorial or graphical format is easier to understand and to attract the attention more than lengthy lists of numbers.
Excel charts are mostly used by business users who have to analyze information quickly, easily and accurately so that they can make the right business decisions.
Advantages to Using Excel Charts
The main advantage of using Excel charts is that you need not be a technical expert to create or modify Excel charts. Even new Excel users can create or modify different types of charts the way they need. You can create a Column chart or Pie chart just in few clicks. Moreover, you also have the freedom to choose the best type of chart and to move around other types if you want. For example, after creating a Column chart, if you feel that Pie chart would better represent your data, then you can migrate as simple as that. You don’t have to recreate another chart once your data is changed.
You could find that as and when you make changes to the data, the chart automatically reflects the changes. Another major benefit of Excel charts is that charts work well with other programs as well. If you have to make a PowerPoint presentation that includes a chart representing your sales data, you don’t have to worry at all. Create the Excel chart using your sales data and cut and paste the chart in your PowerPoint document.
You could find different types of chart options, if you go to Insert -> Charts after opening an Excel worksheet. You could find different charts such as Column, Line, Pie, Bar, Area, Scatter and Other Charts. If you click on Other Charts drop down, you could find many more options like Stock, Surface, Doughnut, Bubble and Radar. These different charts represent data differently. For example, a pie chart represents the relationships of the parts to the whole whereas a column chart represents the changes in data over a period of time. So, you should choose the chart which would represent your data more understandably and clearly.
How to Create a Simple Chart from Excel Data
1. To create the chart, first you should be ready with the data for the chart. So, open an Excel workbook and enter the data you need to represent as chart, total the columns if needed. You can enter whatever data you need. To understand the concept, enter data as shown below. Imagine that the given data is the sales details of seven employees of a particular company.
2. Select the cells that contain your data. As per the above image, you need to select cells from A1 through A8 and B1 through B8.
3. Go to Insert -> Charts -> Pie and choose a Pie chart type. You can go for 2-D pies or 3-D pies. You could find the names of different charts by moving the cursor over the image. If you go for a Pie chart in 2-D Pie (first option in 2-D Pie group), then you will get a chart as given below.
If you analyze the chart, you could easily understand that Caroline has contributed most towards sales and Edwin contributed the least. But, you are not able to get the exact contribution of each employee from this chart.
Create an Excel Chart with Data Labels
1. Click on the displayed chart and go to Layout -> Labels -> Data Labels -> Inside End. Now you could see that your chart displays the sales details also as given below.
Create a Bar Chart
1. Click on the displayed chart and go to Design -> Type -> Change Chart Type to get a new window which displays different types of charts. Select bar chart from the list and click OK. You will get the bar chart as shown below.
More Chart Options
Click on the displayed chart and go to Design tab. You could find various options to change the design of your chart. You can change the chart type as done above. You can switch the row and column. For example, in the above figure the X-axis of the chart displays the sales details and Y-axis displays the employee details. By clicking the Switch Row/Column option, the X-axis would display the employee details and Y-axis would display Sales details. You could display the chart in the layout you prefer by selecting it from Chart Layouts. You could also select the style of the chart from Chart Styles. You also have the freedom to decide where to display your chart. You can go to Move Chart option and select the sheet.
Click on the displayed chart and go to Layout tab to find numerous options to decide the layout of your chart. You can insert pictures, shapes or text boxes within your chart area. You can change the chart title, axis titles, legend, data labels, axes etc as you need to make your chart more understandable and visually appealing. You can also include gridlines in your chart.
You can change the format of the content within your chart by going to Format tab after clicking the displayed chart. You can change the font, color, effects, size etc with different options.
Given below is the column chart representation of the sample data. Changes have been made to the normal display with the help of appropriate design, layout and format options.