LIS 504 - Charts in Excel

Microsoft Excel supports various kinds of graphic display of data.

Before invoking an Excel charting operation, first make sure all the needed data have been entered into the datasheet.

The following types of "standard" chart are available:
Excel name What it is Notes Sample
Column Vertical bar graph May be 3-d. A good general choice.
Bar Horizontal bar graph May be 3-d.
Line Line graph
Pie Pie chart Good for showing proportions of a small number of categories.
XY (Scatter) X-Y plot May also be made to do a true scatterplot (2 variables only), though this is not the default, and Excel will behave incorrectly if the data are not in adjacent columns.
Area Like a line graph, but with areas below data lines filled in.
Doughnut Like a pie chart, but can show multiple series in different rings of the "doughnut".
Radar Like a line graph or area chart, but arranged around a point, rather than with an X-axis. Suitable only for cyclical data. Areas misrepresent proportional changes.
Surface A 3-d version of a line graph and/or using colors to represent values of one series Might be useful to show geographical distributions.
Bubble Like an X-Y plot or scatterplot, but with information on another data series in the areas of the bubbles The 3-d option might mislead as to value proportions.
Stock A special variation on an X-Y plot, showing "high", "low", "close", and (optionally) "volume" and "open" values. Can be adapted to show ranges and averages instead.
Cylinder A bar chart with cylindrical bars Bar diameters are constant, so that bar volumes remain proportional to values.
Cone A bar chart with conical bars Cone bases are constant, so that cone volumes remain proportional to values.
Pyramid A bar chart with pyramidal bars Pyramid bases are constant, so that pyramid volumes remain proportional to values.
There are also some additional built-in "custom" chart types.

Creating a simple chart

  1. Enter the X values (for example, years) in one column and the Y values (for example, circulation figures) in the next column.
  2. Select the parts of the second column that contains the Y values.
  3. Click on the "Chart Wizard" button.
  4. Select the type of chart you want from the "Chart type" list at the "Standard" tab in the first step dialog of the chart wizard and click on the "Next >" button.
  5. In the second step dialog of the chart wizard, check that the data range is correct (e.g., Sheet1!$B$1:$B$5 would mean the first five cells of the second column) at the "Data Range" tab; then, at the "Series" tab, next to "X Values:", click on the button that looks like a little spreadsheet, and use the mouse to drag out a selection box over the values in the first column, click on the button at the bottom right of the chart wizard dialog stub to restore the dialog. Give the series a name by typing it into the edit box next to "Name:". Then, click on the "Next >" button.
  6. In the third step dialog of the wizard, set options at the various tabs: Then, click on the "Next >" button.
  7. In the fourth step dialog of the wizard, select whether you want the chart to appear on a separate datasheet or on the same datasheet. Then, click on the "Finish" button.
  8. Make any further adjustments to parts of the chart by clicking on them. You can delete a selected element, such as the legend, by pressing the "Delete" key. To change the text of a selected element, click on it again to enter text editing mode. Right clicking on an element brings up a menu that allows you to make other changes to it.
To print out a chart, first click on it to select it (you should see "handles" at the four corners of the chart). Then, select "File|Print".

Last updated November 6, 2000.
This page maintained by Prof. Tim Craven
E-mail (text/plain only):
Faculty of Information and Media Studies
University of Western Ontario,
London, Ontario
Canada, N6A 5B7