Guest Author - Chris Curtis
When working with Excel charts, the primary tool that you will use is the chart wizard. The Chart Wizard is designed to step you through a series of choices to approach your chart and get the results you want.
The chart wizard can be activated in two ways:
Insert | Chart
Chart Button on the Standard Tool Bar
There are 4 steps to the chart wizard
Lets walk through each step of the wizard and create a chart. Suppose you have been tracking your revenues, expenses and profits for your small business by quarter over the last two years. You would like to produce a chart that will display the data in a meaningful way. Let begin by establishing your data in an Excel Worksheet. Launch Excel and input the data as shown in the worksheet exhibit below.
When beginning the charting process, I like to pre-select the range of data because it makes working with the Chart Wizard less complicated.
Select the entire range of data beginning with cell A1 through cell D9.
Activate the Chart Wizard in one of these two ways:
o Insert | Chart
o Chart Button on the Standard Tool Bar
The 1st step of the chart wizard will be displayed
For this chart, select a column chart with the clustered column sub-type selected.
Click on Next to advance to Step 2 of the chart wizard
Step 2 of the chart wizard has two tabs Data Range and Series. Because you pre-selected your data range before activating the Chart Wizard, the data range is filled in and a sample of the chart is displayed. The wizard allows you to choose between displaying your data by column or by rows as follows:
By Column means the data series will be defined by the columnar headings. Thus, each quarter will display the revenues, expenses and profit grouped together.
By Rows means the data series will be defined by the row headings. Thus, the revenues for each quarter will be displayed together, as will the expenses and profits.
For our exercise.
Select series in rows because for your data it provides for a more meaningful analysis of the data. A sample will be displayed.
Activate the series tab
Observe that there are 8 series one for each quarter in your analysis. As you select each of the series in the series box, you will observe the the Name and the value fields change to display the cell in which the series name is located and the range in which the data resides. Category (x) axis labels reveals the range in which the labels for revenues, expenses and profit are located.
Click on next to proceed to the Chart Options step of the wizard.
Step 3 is your Chart Options. There are 6 pages of the Chart options. The titles page allows you to define a title for the Chart, the category axis and the value axis. In Excel, click on each of the page tabs as you follow along with this discussion
Axes use this tab to define the vertical and horizontal axis of your chart. Most of the time, you will use the automatic setting.
Gridlines - Use this tab to add gridlines to make your chart more readable.
Legend use this tab to display the chart legend and designate its placement on the chart area.
Labels use this tab to define how you want your data series labeled within your chart.
Data Table use this tab to display the data table on your chart.
Step 4 Chart Location
Depending on your objectives for presentation of your chart, Excel allows you to place your chart on a separate worksheet tab within your workbook or as a graphical object position on the same sheet where the source data resides.
After completing Step 4, Click on the Finish button and your chart will be created as you defined it in the process. Notice that throughout the chart wizard, you have the options to cancel the process or to go back to the previous step.
Once you have completed your chart, you are now able to customize your chart to suit your purposes and enhance your presentation.