About charts

Charts are visually appealing and make it easy for users to see comparisons, patterns, and trends in data. For instance, rather than having to analyze several columns of worksheet numbers, you can see at a glance whether sales are falling or rising over quarterly periods, or how the actual sales compare to the projected sales.

A chart.

ShowCreating charts

You can create a chart on its own sheet or as an embedded object on a worksheet. You can also publish a chart on a Web page. To create a chart, you must first enter the data for the chart on the worksheet. Then select that data and use the Chart Wizard to step through the process of choosing the chart type and the various chart options, or use the Chart toolbar to create a basic chart that you can format later.

Worksheet data and chart

Callout 1 Worksheet data

Callout 2 Chart created from worksheet data

A PivotChart report is an interactive summary of data in a chart format. It is created differently than regular Microsoft Excel charts. After you create a PivotChart report, you can view different levels of detail or reorganize the layout of the chart by dragging its fields and items.

ShowHow worksheet data is represented in a chart

A chart is linked to the worksheet data it's created from and is updated automatically when you change the worksheet data.

How worksheet data appears in a chart

Callout 1 Data Marker

Callout 2 Major gridline

Callout 3 Category names

Callout 4 Chart data series names

Data marker     Each data marker (data marker: A bar, area, dot, slice, or other symbol in a chart that represents a single data point or value that originates from a worksheet cell. Related data markers in a chart constitute a data series.) represents one number from the worksheet. Data markers with the same pattern represent one data series (data series: Related data points that are plotted in a chart. Each data series in a chart has a unique color or pattern and is represented in the chart legend. You can plot one or more data series in a chart. Pie charts have only one data series.). In the example above, the rightmost data marker represents the Qtr2 Actual value of 99.

Major gridline Microsoft Excel creates axis values from the worksheet data. Note that the axis values in the example above range from 0 to 120, which encompasses the range of values on the worksheet. Major gridlines (gridlines in charts: Lines you can add to a chart that make it easier to view and evaluate data. Gridlines extend from the tick marks on an axis across the plot area.) mark the major intervals on the axis. You can also display minor gridlines on a chart, which mark the intervals between the major intervals.

Category names     Excel uses column or row headings in the worksheet data for category axis names. In the example above, the worksheet row headings QTR1 and QTR2 appear as category axis names.

Chart data series names     Excel also uses column or row headings in the worksheet data for series names. Series names appear in the chart legend (legend: A box that identifies the patterns or colors that are assigned to the data series or categories in a chart.). In the example above, the row headings Projected and Actual appear as series names.

Chart Tips     When you rest your pointer over a chart item, a chart tip containing the name of the item appears. For example, when you rest the pointer over a legend, a chart tip that contains the word Legend appears.

ShowEmbedded charts and chart sheets

You can create a chart on its own chart sheet (chart sheet: A sheet in a workbook that contains only a chart. A chart sheet is beneficial when you want to view a chart or a PivotChart report separately from worksheet data or a PivotTable report.) or as an embedded chart (embedded chart: A chart that is placed on a worksheet rather than on a separate chart sheet. Embedded charts are beneficial when you want to view or print a chart or a PivotChart report with its source data or other information in a worksheet.) on a worksheet. Either way, the chart is linked to the source data on the worksheet, which means the chart is updated when you update the worksheet data.

Embedded charts     An embedded chart is considered a graphic object and is saved as part of the worksheet on which it is created. Use embedded charts when you want to display or print one or more charts with your worksheet data.

Embedded chart.

Chart sheets     A chart sheet is a separate sheet within your workbook that has its own sheet name. Use a chart sheet when you want to view or edit large or complex charts separately from the worksheet data or when you want to preserve screen space as you work on the worksheet.

A chart sheet.
Applies to:
Excel 2003