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Microsoft Excel 2007

Formatting Your Chart

In Excel 2007, adding formatting to your chart can enhance its overall appearance and clarity. Formatting is also a way to emphasize important areas of your chart.

NOTE: This document assumes that the chart has already been created. To create a chart, refer to Creating a Basic Chart.

return to topWhat Can be Formatted

Since the options in the Format dialog box change depending on what chart item you choose to customize, it is important to understand what chart items can and cannot be customized.

The following chart items can be filled with colors, patterns, or pictures, as well as adding and/or formatting borders and lines, shadows, and 3-D effects:

The following graphical items cannot be filled with colors, patterns, or pictures, but can add and/or format their borders and connection lines, shadows, or 3-D effects:

If you are formatting any chart items from the Analysis group (in the Layout command tab), note that the following options are available for each function:

The Format Dialog Box

The Format dialog box is the primary tool you will use to format your charts. The options in this dialog box change depending on what chart item you choose to customize.

To access the Format dialog box:

  1. Right click the chart item you want to customize » select Format (chart item)Format icon
    The Format dialog box appears.
    NOTE: The following image is the Format dialog box for the Chart Area:
    Format Chart Area dialog box

  2. Select the desired options

  3. Click CLOSE

return to topApplying Chart Layouts

Excel provides several preformatted chart layouts to help you stylize your chart. Chart layouts can change the positioning of chart items, such as the title, legend, axes.

  1. Select your chart by clicking it

  2. From the Design command tab, in the Chart Layouts group, click MOREMore arrow
    A list of layouts appears.

  3. Click the layout you prefer
    The layout is applied to your chart.

return to topApplying Chart Styles

Excel provides several preformatted chart styles to help you stylize your chart. Chart styles are pre-formatted colors, backgrounds, shading, gradients, and other formatting elements that can give your charts a consistent aesthetic appeal.

  1. Select your chart by clicking it

  2. From the Design command tab, in the Chart Styles group, click MOREMore arrow
    A list of styles appears.

  3. Click the style you prefer
    The style is applied to your chart.

return to topFilling Areas with Colors, Patterns, and Pictures

There are many chart items that can be filled with a color, picture, or texture. These items are normally in areas where information is placed. To apply fill effects to your chart, refer to Using Fill Effects in Excel and PowerPoint.

return to topAdding Borders and Formatting Lines

If the chart item you want to customize rests in a box or is a box, you can add and format a border. If the item is a line, you can format the line. If the item is a series of points, you can add and format its connection line.

NOTE: Since the steps to format borders, connection lines, and lines are similar, Excel uses the term line to categorize each term. The following steps will also refer to these chart items as lines.

  1. On your chart, right click the chart item you want to format » select Format (Chart Item) Format icon
    The Format dialog box appears.

  2. From the categories list, select Line
    The Format dialog box refreshes to display Line options.

  3. To delete any line formatting, click NO LINE

  4. For a single line
    1. Select Solid Line
    2. To add a color to your line, click COLORColor button» select the color you prefer
    3. To change the transparency of the line, move the Transparency slider

  5. For a line with a color blend
    1. Select Gradient Line
    2. To choose a gradient color scheme, click PRESET COLORS » select the colors you prefer
    3. To choose a style of gradient flow, click TYPE » select the style you prefer
    4. To choose a different gradient starting point, click DIRECTION » select the direction you prefer

  6. To give your line rounded corners, select Rounded Corners
    NOTE: Not all chart items that can format their lines have this option available.

  7. From the categories list, select Line Style
    The Format dialog box refreshes to display Line Style options.

  8. To change the width of the line, in the Width text box, type the width you prefer
    OR
    Use the nudge buttons to select the desired width

  9. To add multiple lines to your line, click COMPOUND TYPE » select the style you prefer

  10. To add dashes to your line, click DASH TYPE » select the style you prefer

  11. To change the appearance of line caps (i.e., corners at the end of a line), from the Cap type pull down-list, select the style you prefer

  12. To change the appearance of line joints, from the Join type pull-down list » select the style you prefer

  13. When finished, click CLOSE
    The formatting is applied.

return to topCreating an Exploding Pie or Doughnut Slice

In pie and doughnut charts, slices can be pulled out from their original positions to draw attention to them. This is effective when indicating significance to one or more slices.

NOTE: With doughnut charts, you may only explode the the outermost ring.

If you have already created your chart, you can change the chart type to a pie or doughnut chart that has pre-exploded slices. If your chart is an unexploded pie or doughnut chart, you may customize the exploded pieces by following these steps:

  1. Select the pie chart by clicking it

  2. On the pie chart, click and hold the slice you want to explode
    The cursor changes to become a four-headed arrowFour-headed cursor.

  3. Drag the slice away from the chart

  4. Release the mouse button
    The slice is exploded.

  5. OPTIONAL: To explode more slices, repeat steps 2–4

return to topAdding Shadows

Adding shadows to your chart items brings depth to your chart. A chart item that has a shadow seems to rise away from the page, which is useful to denote significance. For this reason, use shadows sparingly. To add shadows, refer to Modifying Objects in Excel and PowerPoint: Adding Shadows.

return to topAdding 3-D Effects

3-D effects can give your chart the effect of roundness, texture, and depth. Where shadows give the appearance of information rising off the chart area, bevels give the appearance of information standing taller than other material on the chart area. Chart items with a 3-D effect appear to be more significant than items without a 3-D effect. For this reason, use 3-D effects sparingly. To add 3-D effects, refer to Modifying Objects in Excel and PowerPoint: Adding 3-D Effects.

return to topAdjusting Chart Fonts

You may customize the type specifications (e.g., font, size, color) of your chart elements.

  1. Right click the text you want to format
    The Mini Toolbar appears.
    Mini Toolbar

  2. Make your formatting changes
    HINT: For more information, refer to Working with Text Options: Changing Font, Size, and Color.

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