Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Formatting Your Charts

Aesthetics is often scorned by would-be Excel gurus. “The data is all that matters”, they may say. “How it looks doesn’t matter”, they scoff.

Well, they are right to a point, but they are missing the fact that if people find your work easy to understand, professional-looking, and agreeable to look at, they will take it more seriously and give it the attention it deserves. Charts are, after all, one of the most powerful tools in Excel. Chart Visually Convey your data in an easy-to- comprehended (done correctly, of course…) manner. 

Consequently, it is well worth any true guru’s time to assure the charts he or she has created conveys skill and insight. No one has any time to waste on frivolous enhancements, so here is a Quick, 2-Minute Drill to get real Value for your Chart-Improvement Efforts:

1.  Chart Type: Quickly scan the types of charts available and consider which suits your illustration be best (it may be one which your department has never used before).

2.  Gridlines often add Clutter your visual information. If that is the case, then Right-Click and Delete the Gridlines!

3.  Legends
seldom add any additional information to a well-constructed chart. Assure that the chart is communicating well and then Right-click and Delete the Legend - Hasta la Vista, Baby!

4.  Formatting:  Add a little Zing to your charts by Formatting Your Plot Area. Right-Click and choose a Gradient Fill that adds a touch of Finesse while maintaining a professional look.

5.  Rounded Corners can add a bit of class to your chart and set it apart from the mundane. Go to Format Chart Area, select Border Styles, and put a check mark next to Rounded Corners. Totally Cool!

Taking an extra minute or two can Separate Your Work from the commonplace charts that we all see too often. A wee bit of effort can make all the difference!

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