Overview of charting

Microsoft Office Excel 2007 no longer provides the chart wizard. Instead, you can create a basic chart by clicking the chart type that you want on the Microsoft Office Fluent user interface Ribbon. To create a professional-looking chart that displays the details that you want, you can modify the chart, apply predefined styles and layouts, and add eye-catching formatting. You can also reuse a favorite chart by saving it as a chart template.

If you have Office Excel 2007 installed, you can also take advantage of the powerful Excel charting functionality in other 2007 Microsoft Office system programs, such as Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 and Microsoft Office Word 2007.

In this article


Charts and their elements

Charts are used to display series of numeric data in a graphical format to make it easier to understand large quantities of data and the relationship between different series of data.

A chart has many elements. Some of these elements are displayed by default, others can be added as needed. You can change the display of the chart elements by moving them to other locations in the chart, resizing them, or by changing the format. You can also remove chart elements that you do not want to display.

A chart and its elements

When you click anywhere in the chart area, and then hover the mouse pointer over one of these elements, Excel displays information about that element in a ScreenTip.

Clicking anywhere in a chart also makes the Chart Tools available, adding the Design, Layout, and Format tabs.

Excel Ribbon Image

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Creating charts in Excel

To create a chart in Excel, you start by entering the data for the chart on a worksheet (worksheet: The primary document that you use in Excel to store and work with data. Also called a spreadsheet. A worksheet consists of cells that are organized into columns and rows; a worksheet is always stored in a workbook.). The data can be arranged in rows or columns — Excel automatically determines the best way to plot the data in the chart. Some chart types (such as pie and bubble charts) require a specific data arrangement as described in the following table.

For this chart type Arrange the data
Column, bar, line, area, surface, or radar chart

In columns or rows, such as:

Lorem Ipsum
1 2
3 4

Or:

Lorem 1 3
Ipsum 2 4
Pie or doughnut chart

For 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 one column or row of data and one column or row of data labels, such as:

A 1
B 2
C 3

Or:

A B C
1 2 3

For multiple data series, in multiple columns or rows of data and one column or row of data labels, such as:

A 1 2
B 3 4
C 5 6

Or:

A B C
1 2 3
4 5 6
XY (scatter) or bubble chart

In columns, placing x values in the first column and corresponding y values and bubble size values in adjacent columns, like:

X Y Bubble size
1 2 3
4 5 6
Stock chart

In columns or rows in the following order, using names or dates as labels:

high values, low values, and closing values

Like:

Date High Low Close
1/1/2002 46.125 42 44.063

Or:

Date 1/1/2002
High 46.125
Low 42
Close 44.063

Once you have entered the data for your chart, you can select the chart type that you want to use on the Office Fluent Ribbon (Insert tab, Charts group).


Worksheet data and chart

Callout 1 Worksheet data
Callout 2 Chart created from worksheet data

Excel supports many types of charts to help you display data in ways that are meaningful to your audience. When you create a chart or change an existing chart, you can select from a variety of chart types (such as a column chart or a pie chart) and their subtypes (such as a stacked column chart or a pie in 3-D chart).

For more information about the chart types that are supported and how to create a chart in Excel, see Available chart types and Create a chart.

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Creating charts in PowerPoint and Word

Charts are fully integrated with other 2007 Office release programs, such as Office PowerPoint 2007 and Office Word 2007. Both programs provide the same chart tools that are available in Excel. When you have Excel installed, you can create Excel charts in PowerPoint and Word by clicking the Chart button on the Ribbon (Insert tab, Illustrations group), and then by using the chart tools to modify or format the chart. Charts that you create will be embedded in Office PowerPoint 2007 and Office Word 2007, and the chart data is stored in an Excel worksheet that is incorporated in the PowerPoint or Word file.

 Note   If you work in Compatibility Mode in Word, you can insert a chart by using Microsoft Graph instead of Excel. In PowerPoint, you can always use Excel to create a chart.

You can also copy a chart from Excel to PowerPoint 2007 and Word 2007. When you copy a chart, it can be embedded as static data or linked to the workbook. For a chart that is linked to a workbook that you have access to, you can specify that it automatically checks for changes in the linked workbook whenever the chart is opened.

For more information about how to create a chart in PowerPoint 2007 or Office Word 2007, see Use charts and graphs in your presentation or Present data in a chart.

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Modifying charts

After you create a chart, you can modify it. For example, you may want to change the way that axes (axis: A line bordering the chart plot area used as a frame of reference for measurement. The y axis is usually the vertical axis and contains data. The x-axis is usually the horizontal axis and contains categories.) are displayed, add a chart title, move or hide the legend, or display additional chart elements.

To modify a chart, you can:

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Using predefined chart layouts and chart styles for a professional look

Instead of manually adding or changing chart elements or formatting the chart, you can quickly apply a predefined chart layout and chart style to your chart. Excel provides a variety of useful predefined layouts and styles that you can select from. As needed, you can fine-tune a layout or style by making manual changes to the layout and format of individual chart elements, such as the chart area (chart area: The entire chart and all its elements.), 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.), 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 legend (legend: A box that identifies the patterns or colors that are assigned to the data series or categories in a chart.) of the chart.

When you apply a predefined chart layout, a specific set of chart elements (such as titles (titles in charts: Descriptive text that is automatically aligned to an axis or centered at the top of a chart.), a legend, a data table (data table: A range of cells that shows the results of substituting different values in one or more formulas. There are two types of data tables: one-input tables and two-input tables.), or data labels (data label: A label that provides additional information about a data marker, which represents a single data point or value that originates from a datasheet cell.)) are displayed in a specific arrangement in your chart. You can select from a variety of layouts that are provided for each chart type.

When you apply a predefined chart style, the chart is formatted based on the document theme (theme: A set of unified design elements that provides a look for your document by using color, fonts, and graphics.) that you have applied, so that your chart matches your organization's or your own theme colors (theme colors: A set of colors that is used in a file. Theme colors, theme fonts, and theme effects compose a theme.) (a set of colors), theme fonts (theme fonts: A set of major and minor fonts that is applied to a file. Theme fonts, theme colors, and theme effects compose a theme.) (a set of heading and body text fonts), and theme effects (theme effects: A set of visual attributes that is applied to elements in a file. Theme effects, theme colors, and theme fonts compose a theme.) (a set of lines and fill effects).

 Note   You cannot create your own chart layouts or styles, but you can create chart templates that include the chart layout and formatting that you want. For more information about chart templates, see Reusing charts by creating chart templates.

For more information about how to change the look of a chart, see Change the layout or style of a chart.

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Adding eye-catching formatting to charts

In addition to applying a predefined chart style, you can easily apply formatting to individual chart elements such as 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, the plot area, and the numbers and text in titles and labels to give your chart a custom, eye-catching look. You can apply specific shape styles and WordArt styles, but you can also format the shapes and text of chart elements manually.

To add formatting, you can:

  • Fill chart elements    You can use colors, textures, pictures, and gradient fills to help draw attention to specific chart elements.
  • Change the outline of chart elements    You can use colors, line styles, and line weights to emphasize chart elements.
  • Add special effects to chart elements    You can apply special effects, such as shadow, reflection, glow, soft edges, bevel, and 3-D rotation to chart element shapes, which gives your chart a finished look.
  • Format text and numbers    You can format text and numbers in titles, labels, and text boxes on a chart as you would text and numbers on a worksheet. To make text and numbers stand out, you can even apply WordArt styles.

For more information about how to format chart elements, see Format chart elements.

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Reusing charts by creating chart templates

If you want to reuse a chart that you customized to meet your needs, you can save that chart as a chart template (*.crtx) in the chart templates folder. When you create a chart, you can then apply the chart template just as you would any other built-in chart type. In fact, chart templates are true chart types, and you can also use them to change the chart type of an existing chart. If you use a chart template frequently, you can save it as the default chart type.

 Note   Chart templates are not based on document themes (theme: A set of unified design elements that provides a look for your document by using color, fonts, and graphics.). To use the current theme colors (theme colors: A set of colors that is used in a file. Theme colors, theme fonts, and theme effects compose a theme.), theme fonts (theme fonts: A set of major and minor fonts that is applied to a file. Theme fonts, theme colors, and theme effects compose a theme.), and theme effects (theme effects: A set of visual attributes that is applied to elements in a file. Theme effects, theme colors, and theme fonts compose a theme.) in a chart that you create by using a chart template, you can apply a style to the chart. A chart style resets the theme of a chart to the document theme. For more information, see Using predefined chart styles and chart layouts for a professional look.

For more information about how to use chart templates, see Create, apply, or remove a chart template.

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Applies to:
Excel 2007, Outlook 2007, PowerPoint 2007, Word 2007