Present your data in an area chart

Area charts are much like line charts, but they display different colors in the areas below the lines. This colorful and visual display distinguishes the data more clearly. Unfortunately, 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.) with smaller values that are plotted in the back of an area chart may be completely or partially hidden behind data series with larger values that are plotted in front of them. However, in Microsoft Office Excel 2007, you can use transparency to show the entire outline of smaller data series through any larger data series in front.

3-D area chart formatted with transparency

In this article


Learn more about plotting data in an area chart

Data that is arranged in columns or rows on a worksheet can be plotted in an area chart. Area charts emphasize the magnitude of change over time and can be used to draw attention to the total value across a trend. For example, data that represents profit over time can be plotted in an area chart to emphasize the total profit.

A stacked area chart also shows the relationship of parts to a whole.

Stacked area chart

Area charts include the following chart subtypes:

  • 2-D area and 3-D area    Whether they are shown in 2-D or in 3-D, area charts display the trend of values over time or other category data.3-D area charts use three axes (horizontal, vertical, and depth) that you can modify. As a general rule, you should consider using a line chart instead of a nonstacked area chart, because data from one series can be obscured by data from another series.

Area and 3-D area chart types

  • Stacked area and stacked area in 3-D    Stacked area charts display the trend of the contribution of each value over time or other category data. A stacked area chart in 3-D is displayed in the same way but uses a 3-D perspective. A 3-D perspective is not a true 3-D chart — a third value axis (depth axis) is not used.

Stacked area and stacked area in 3-D chart types

  • 100% stacked area and 100% stacked area in 3-D    100% stacked area charts display the trend of the percentage that each value contributes over time or other category data. A 100% stacked area chart in 3-D is displayed in the same way but uses a 3-D perspective. A 3-D perspective is not a true 3-D chart — a third value axis (depth axis) is not used.

100% stacked area and 100% stacked area in 3-D chart types

Top of Page Top of Page

Create an area chart that uses transparency

3-D area chart formatted with transparency

So, how did we create this area chart? The following procedure will help you create an area chart with similar results. For this chart, we used the example worksheet data. You can copy this data to your worksheet, or you can use your own data.

  1. Copy the example worksheet data into a blank worksheet, or open the worksheet that contains the data that you want to plot in an area chart.

ShowHow to copy the example worksheet data

  • Create a blank workbook or worksheet.
  • Select the example in the Help topic.

 Note   Do not select the row or column headers.

Selecting an example from Help

Selecting an example from Help
  • Press CTRL+C.
  • In the worksheet, select cell A1, and press CTRL+V.

 
1
2
3
4
A B C D E
Qtr 1 Qtr 2 Qtr 3 Qtr 4
Region 1 217,047 129,870 174,850 125,678
Region 2 207,740 152,144 83,568 157,634
Region 3 130,942 78,730 86,895 104,567
  1. Select the data that you want to plot in the area chart.
  2. On the Insert tab, in the Charts group, click Area.

Charts group on Excel Ribbon

  1. Under 3-D Area, click 3-D Area.
  2. Click the chart area (chart area: The entire chart and all its elements.) of the chart.

This displays the Chart Tools, adding the Design, Layout, and Format tabs.

  1. On the Design tab, in the Chart Styles group, click the chart style that you want to use.

Chart Styles group on Excel Ribbon

 Tip   For our area chart, we used Style 2.

  1. In the chart, click the legend, and then press DELETE.
  2. To change the size of the chart, on the Format tab, in the Size group, select the shape size that you want in the Shape Height and Shape Width boxes, and then press ENTER.

 Tip   For our area chart, we used 3.5" for the shape height and 4" for the shape width.

Size group on Excel Ribbon

  1. To add, format, and position a chart title in the chart, click the chart area (chart area: The entire chart and all its elements.), and then do the following:
  1. On the Layout tab, in the Labels group, click Chart Title, and then click Above Chart.

Labels group on Excel Ribbon

  1. In the chart, click the chart title, and then type the text that you want.

 Tip   For our area chart, we typed Regional Sales.

  1. To reduce the size of the chart title, right-click the title, and then enter the size that you want in the Font size box.

 Tip   For our area chart, we used 14.

  1. Click the vertical axis, or select it from a list of chart elements (Layout tab, Current Selection group, Chart Elements box).
  2. On the Format tab, in the Current Selection group, click Format Selection.
  3. Under Axis Options, in the Display Units box, click Thousands.

 Tip   You do not need to click Close. You can leave the dialog box open and continue with the next step.

  1. In the chart, click the first 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.), or select it from a list of chart elements (Layout tab, Current Selection group, Chart Elements box).
  2. In the Format Data Series dialog box, click Fill.
  3. Under Fill, click Solid Fill, and then do the following:
  1. In the Color palette, click the color that you want to use for the selected data series.
  2. Drag the Transparency slider to the percentage of transparency that you want to use, or type the percentage in the Transparency box.

 Tip   For our area chart, we used 33%.

  1. In the chart, click the second 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.), or select it from a list of chart elements, and then repeat steps 14 and 15.
  2. Click Close.
  3. To use theme colors that are different from the default theme that is applied to your workbook, do the following:
  1. On the Page Layout tab, in the Themes group, click Themes.

Themes group on Excel Ribbon

  1. Under Built-in, click the theme that you want to use.

 Tip   For our area chart, we used the Office theme.

Top of Page Top of Page

Save a chart as a template

If you want to create another chart like the one that you just created, you can save the chart as a template that you can use as the basis for other similar charts.

  • Click the chart that you want to save as a template.
  • On the Design tab, in the Type group, click Save as Template.

Type group on Excel Ribbon

  • In the File name box, type a name for the template.

 Tip   Unless you specify a different folder, the template file (.crtx) will be saved in the Charts folder, and the template becomes available under Templates in both the Insert Chart dialog box (Insert tab, Charts group, Dialog Box Launcher Button image ) and the Change Chart Type dialog box (Design tab, Type group, Change Chart Type).

For more information about how to apply a chart template, see Reuse a favorite chart by using a chart template.

 Note   A chart template contains chart formatting and stores the colors that are in use when you save the chart as a template. When you use a chart template to create a chart in another workbook, the new chart uses the colors of the chart template — not the colors of the document theme that is currently applied to the workbook. To use the document theme colors instead of the chart template colors, right-click the chart area (chart area: The entire chart and all its elements.), and then click Reset to Match Style on the shortcut menu.

Top of Page Top of Page

 
 
Applies to:
Excel 2007, Outlook 2007