When you go to create a graph in Excel, there are many enhancements that you can use that you may not have considered using before. There are a variety of functions and formatting changes that you can use when you create a graph that will make your graphs more interesting and more useful. Listed below are the top four features that you can use to really make your graphs pop!
1. Changing Scales
When you first create a graph, Excel automatically sets the scale on both the horizontal and vertical axis of your chart. However, the default setting may not be the view that provides you with the most informative view of your data. If you change the scales, you can highlight smaller differences in the data or draw attention to trends more precisely. Luckily, Excel makes this easy to do. All you need to do is right click on an axis and then select Format Axis. The Axis Options tab provides you with ready access to change the minimum and maximum bounds of your graph to whatever values you need.
2. Adding/Removing Gridlines
Gridlines are often overlooked when people go to create a graph. However, when used effectively, gridlines can help you draw attention to a particular aspect of the chart or make it easier to read. Of course, it’s easy to over-do it with gridlines too. It’s generally best to use either horizontal or vertical gridlines, but not both. The easiest way to access the gridlines settings is to simply navigate to the Layout Tab of the Chart Tools section of the Ribbon.
3. Data Labels
Data labels are very useful for drawing attention to particular pieces of data in your graph. While it is not usually necessary to label every single data point on a chart, a few, carefully-placed data labels can help your readers zero-in on the information you are trying to convey in the graph. When you create a graph, the easiest way to add data labels is to simply use the Data Labels button on the Ribbon. This will add data labels to all of your data by default. Simply click on the labels you don’t need and delete them to make your graph easier to read.
4. Changing Colors
Don’t underestimate the power of color changes when you create a graph. Most people don’t change the default color settings, so everyone’s graphs end up looking more or less the same. To make your graph “pop”, simply change a couple of the colors and make the chart more aesthetically pleasing. You can also use colors creatively to draw attention to particular parts of the graph (highlighting something in red or yellow, for example). You can change the color of everything from the outline of the bars on your bar graph to the background of the key by accessing the formatting options for whatever part of the chart you want to change. Simply right click on the part of the graph you want to change and select the format option.
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