Add eye-catching formatting to your charts

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Applies to
Microsoft Office Excel 2003
Microsoft Excel 2000 and 2002

To give your Excel chart a custom, eye-catching look, you can easily apply formatting to data markers (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.), the chart area (chart area: The entire chart and all its elements.), the plot area (plot area: In a 2-D chart, the area bounded by the axes, including all data series. In a 3-D chart, the area bounded by the axes, including the data series, category names, tick-mark labels, and axis titles.), and other chart items, such as numbers and text.

Use colors, textures, and gradient fills

Colors, textures, and gradient fills can help draw attention to specific chart items. For example, to make the background more appealing in the following chart, the plot area was filled with a two-color gradient. To better distinguish between data markers, the data marker for the first data series (Actual) was filled with a texture, while the data marker for the second series (Projected) was filled with a solid color. For added emphasis, the data marker for the third series (Expenses) was formatted with a shadow.

Chart with formatting

Adjust axis scale and tick marks

You can specify the scale (range of values) displayed on the value axis and adjust the interval between the values. For example, the preceding chart shows a range of values from $0 to $140, with an interval of $20. To make your chart easier to read, you can also add tick marks (tick marks and tick-mark labels: Tick marks are small lines of measurement, similar to divisions on a ruler, that intersect an axis. Tick-mark labels identify the categories, values, or series in the chart.) to an axis, and specify the interval at which they will appear.

Apply number formats

To make sure the numbers in your chart tell the right story, you can apply specific number formats, just as you would in a worksheet. To apply the most common number formats to a selected axis or data label, you can use the Currency, Percent, and Comma Style buttons on the Formatting toolbar.

Button image  Button image  Button image

Format and rotate text

You can format text in a chart as you would any other text. Simply select the text and then change the font, size, and color by clicking the corresponding buttons on the Formatting toolbar.

Text formatting buttons on Formatting toolbar

You can also align text the way you want by rotating it. To quickly change the orientation of chart title or axis text, use the Angle Clockwise and Angle Counterclockwise buttons on the Chart toolbar.

Rotate Clockwise button image  Rotate Counterclockwise button image

 Tip   For additional alignment and orientation of selected text, on the Format menu, click Selected Chart Title, Selected Axis, or Selected Axis Title, and then click the Alignment tab.

Apply special options for each chart type

Special lines, bars, data markers, and other options are available for different chart types. For example, you can get a layered effect for column and bar charts (as shown in the preceding chart example) by changing the overlap property for a data series.

See Microsoft Excel Help for more information on how to use any of these options.

Applies to:
Excel 2003