November 28, 2007, 3:18 pm
Improving Excel Charts
By Kirsten Robinson
Recently I was preparing a presentation for a client to summarize the findings from a survey. I was frustrated with the appearance of the default charts from Excel — ugly colors, slanted labels, a scale that went to an impossible 120%, and various other bits of chart junk got in the way of the data. After experimenting with formatting options, I was able to improve the appearance. Here’s what I changed:
And here is the final chart:
If you’d like to try this yourself, you can find these formatting options by right-clicking on different parts of the chart. You can also modify settings in the chart wizard while creating the chart.
Now, if only I could save my preferences to use in future charts.
In case you were wondering, the survey question was, “How do you currently use the Web for teaching?” Teachers could select any or all of the five options. I converted the scale from raw numbers to percent of respondents to normalize the results between middle and high school teachers.
“Now, if only I could save my preferences to use in future charts.”
Why don’t you save it as a a user defined chart?
Posted by camoesjo on November 28, 2007 at 5:31 pm
Good tips. If I may, there are a few I would add to your example. I would also remove the major horizontal gridlines and border around the chart, leaving just the x and y-axis in a more muted gray. A good font to use is Calibri or Tahoma for the labels and titles. Another option is to use a horizontal bar with the percentages across the top.
Posted by dsainsights on November 28, 2007 at 9:15 pm
Thanks for the additional suggestions!
Posted by Kirsten Robinson on November 29, 2007 at 9:28 am