Excel 2007: Visualize Your Data with Ease
Excel has always been an excellent tool for listing numerical and textual data, and Excel 2007 is no different in that regard. Of course, simply storing data is rarely all that we use Excel for. Most of the time, we use Excel to analyze our data or to visualize it by creating charts.
Charts are a great way to visualize data. They allow you to quickly and easily show what your data means, and effectively compare different aspects of the information you are trying to get across.
The problem with charts in older versions of Excel was that it was fairly annoying to set one up. Even if you had your data in a workable format (which was often a chore to it get into, right?), you still had to do set parameters and change numerous settings in order for Excel to show the chart in the way you wanted it.
This is no longer true! In Excel 2007, not only is it quick, easy and (at the risk of betraying just how nerdy I am) fun to create a chart, but it can be even more interesting to simply format and edit the chart once it has been created.
There are numerous types of charts out there, and each has its own advantages. Here’s the basic chart types that you can create in Excel 2007:
- A column chart – lists 2 or more categories using vertical bars
- A bar chart – similar in form to a column chart, except the bars are displayed horizontally.
- A line chart – basically what we all call a “graph.” Data is represented by dots on a line. This is essentially what you learned about in high school algebra.
- A scatter chart – very similar to a graph. However, you can present the data without lines here so the dots on your chart won’t necessarily follow a progression.
- A pie chart – shows items as slices of a circular “pie.” This is great for showing percentages.
- An area chart – most useful when you have multiple sets of data and you’re trying to show the differences across time or different categories.
But you know what charts are right? You’re more interested in how to create them in Excel 2007. Well you have found the right article, because I am going to do just that.
The easiest and best way to create a chart is to use the Insert tab in the Ribbon Interface. Simply select your data set (including the title row and column), and click on the type of chart that you want to create in the Insert tab.
A menu will come up with a few different styles of the specific chart you want to create. There will usually be 2D and 3D versions of the chart, along with different layout options, and even shapes:
Select the style that you like and it pops right up on the worksheet where your data is located. Presto! You now have a workable chart that you can customize to fit your needs. You can move it around on your worksheet, or even put it on its own sheet if you like.
Since you selected the title row and column with your data for this chart, Excel will automatically use them to create axis labels or categories to divide the data into. No more having to set parameters! How easy is that!Lastly, since the Ribbon Interface is dynamic, when you select your chart it will give you 3 different tabs that are specifically to help you modify and manipulate your chart. I will show quick screens of them below. They’re very intuitive titles are:
I could try to explain all the different options and features of these 3 menus, but that could be an entire article of its own. Instead, I would suggest that you play around with the options yourself and see what you can create.
Have some fun with your data, and look at it in a whole different way with the awesome charts you can make in Excel. Try to see if you can make something really unique and useful, and have fun with it.
When you’re done, stop by and tell us about your favorite chart type or feature in the comments!
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