One of Excel's best analysis tools is graphics. With them you get insights and full understanding of what's happening with your spreadsheet information in a matter of seconds. The only problem is that not everyone who uses Excel knows how to make charts that are really explanatory and easy to analyze.
To start with, let's learn how to assemble a chart
The process is quite simple and can be done in several different ways. The easiest and quickest is when you select the data you entered in your spreadsheet and choose the option of adding a spreadsheet. In our example below, we selected the range of A2 cells: B7, which comprises the toys and their quantity. After making the selection, simply go to the "insert" tab and select the "add new table" option:
This first process has nothing to do with graphics objectively, but you'll see later that this type of action can and will make it more practical to manipulate your spreadsheet information. After the table is created, again on the "Insert" tab, choose the type of chart you want to create. In this post we will work with the column model:
With these basic steps, the chart is already created, but with these 10 simple tips, it will look even better.
10 Tips to make your graphics more attractive
1) Eliminate visual pollution
Excel's standardized graphics maintain lines to mark the axes, supposedly making it easier to understand the content. In most cases, however, these lines tend to divert the focus from who reads the information. Prefer graphics that are unpolluted. To remove the baselines from your chart, simply click on them with your mouse and press delete. Here's how it looks:
2) Use a really explanatory title
When only the chart is in evidence, a clear and objective headline informing which data is being analyzed is very useful and prevents the less focused audience from getting lost during the presentation. Instead of just "Results", for example, it is much better to use a heading "X sector results x in the second half of 2014". To change the title of your chart, simply select the title given by Excel (which is the same one used at the top of your table) and insert a new one.
3) Do not use captions that identify a single element
If the graph shows only one die, instead of describing it in the legend, present the information directly in the title. To delete it, just select it with the mouse and press delete:
4) Change the location caption
This tip is for when the graphic has more than one item in the legend, and especially for pizza or line models (with more than one line). Anyway, the place where you will leave the legend will depend much more on the size of the graphic and layout of the content than on anything else. For example, a longer graphic may usually have the legend on the right side, a longer one, you can put them underneath, and so on.
5) Keep text horizontal
It is rather unpleasant having to tilt your head to read the information on the chart. If the information does not fit all horizontally, use bar graphs instead of columns and make it easier for anyone to analyze it! In our example, it's worth increasing the size of the chart or choosing the bar model:
6) Sort the data before plotting
If the graph shows data that is sequenced, as in the case of those related to time progression, this tip is not applicable. However, if the order of information in the chart does not matter, it is much better that they are organized in ascending or descending order of value. Reading these numbers gets much simpler and the variations more noticeable. The ordering must be done in the table that you used to construct the graph, and it will automatically look cute like this:
7) Delete unnecessary decimal places and use the "thousands separator"
Numbers with many zeros confuse readers less attentive, so the ideal is to avoid putting values like R $ 10,00. It is much simpler to use only $ 10. Also, it is interesting to use separators in numbers that have the thousands (as in 1.000.000) for easy reading. To make this change, simply click on the corresponding axis with the right button and open the axis formatting box. In the "number" option, just enter the formatting code shown below:
8) Adjust the chart scale according to the details to be viewed
To make a bar chart lighter, it is important that the information is not too close, with too many values on the axis. To modify the main scale unit, select the graphic and open the format box (Ctrl + 1). Then select the axis containing the values with the mouse, change the main unit from "automatic" to "fixed" in the axis options and enter a value greater than that used by Excel. If your chart requires a greater amount of detail, set its dimensions so that all values are properly spaced and readable. Changing the value of our chart from 2500 to 5000 results in this:
9) Use Data Labels
Whenever possible, choose to have the values for each column above it, so it is easier to understand the actual value to which each of these columns corresponds.
10) Change themes!
The theme preconfigured by Office is the most used, mainly by those who do not know the most of 2500 combinations offered by Excel. You can make various combinations of colors and styles and find one that fits the presentation proposal, including customizing the colors of your brand, by clicking on some part of the graphic (the bars, for example) and accessing the formatting. Here's an interesting example:
Only be careful not to end up with a graph similar to this one:
By following these simple 10 tips your work will for sure be much more readable, and the graphics will fulfill its function: facilitate understanding of the content presented.