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Microsoft Excel 2008

Formatting Your Chart

In Excel 2008, adding formatting to your chart can enhance its overall appearance and clarity. Formatting is also a way to emphasize important areas in 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 topFormatting with the Format Dialog Box

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

To access the Format dialog box:

  1. Double click the chart item you want to customize
    The Format dialog box appears.
    NOTE: The following image is the Format dialog box for the Chart Area.
    Format Chart dialog box

  2. From the Categories list, select the desired category
    Formatting options for that category appear.

  3. Make the desired selections

  4. When finished, click OK
    The formatting is applied.

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. Click the TOOLBOXToolbox button
    The Formatting Palette appears.

  3. From the Formatting Palette, select Chart Style
    The Chart Style toolbar appears.
    Chart Style toolbar

  4. OPTIONAL: For more styles, clickMore button

  5. Select the desired style
    The style is applied to your chart.

return to topFilling Areas with Colors, Pictures, and Textures

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.

  1. Double click the chart item you want formatted
    The Format dialog box appears.
    NOTE: The following image is the Format dialog box for the Chart Area.
    Format Chart Area dialog box

  2. From the Categories list, select Fill
    The Format dialog box refreshes to display Fill options.

  3. To fill the chart item with color,
    1. Select the Solid tab
    2. From the Color pull-down menu, select the desired color
    3. OPTIONAL: To change the transparency of the color, move the Transparency slider
    4. When finished, click OK
      The formatting is applied.

  4. To fill the chart item with a picture,
    1. Select the Picture tab
    2. Click CHOOSE A PICTURE...Choose a Picture button
      The Choose a Picture dialog box appears.
    3. Navigate to and select the desired picture file
    4. Click INSERT
      You are returned to the Format dialog box.
    5. When finished, click OK
      The formatting is applied.

  5. To fill the chart item with a texture,
    1. Select the Texture tab
    2. Select the desired texture
    3. OPTIONAL: To change the transparency of the line, move the Transparency slider
    4. When finished, click OK
      The formatting is applied.

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. Double click the chart item you want formatted
    The Format dialog box appears.
    NOTE: The following image is the Format dialog box for Data Series.
    Format Data Series dialog box

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

  3. For a single line
    1. Select the Solid tab
    2. To add a color to your line, from the Color pull-down menu, select the desired color
    3. To change the transparency of the line, move the Transparency slider

  4. For a line with a color blend
    1. Select the Gradient tab
    2. To choose a gradient color scheme, under the Color and transparency section, from the Color pull-down menu, select the desired color
    3. To choose a style of gradient flow, under the Styles and direction section, from the Style pull-down menu, select the desired style
    4. To choose a different gradient starting point, under the Styles and direction section, from the Direction pull-down menu, select the desired starting point

  5. To give your line rounded corners, select the Solid tab » select Smoothed line
    The option is selected if a checkmark appears.

  6. To make changes with line styles, select the Weights and Arrows tab
    1. To change the thickness of the line, from the Weight text box, type the desired width number
      OR

      From the Style pull-down menu, select the desired thickness
    2. To add dashes to your line, from the Dashed pull-down menu, select the desired dash style
    3. To change the appearance of the line caps, from the Cap type pull-down menu, select the desired style

  7. When finished, click OK
    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.

Creating an Exploding Pie or Doughnut Slice: One Data Series

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. Click the slice you want to isolate
    Only the slice is selected now

  4. Click and drag the slice away from the chart

  5. Release the mouse button
    The slice is isolated.
    Example One slice isolated

Creating an Exploding Pie or Doughnut Slice: The Whole Chart

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 pie chart is exploded.
    Example of Whole chart exploded

 

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.

  1. Select the chart item you want formatted by clicking it

  2. Click the TOOLBOXToolbox button
    The Formatting Palette appears.

  3. From the Formatting Palette, select Shadow
    The Shadows toolbar appears.
    Shadow toolbar

  4. Select Shadow
    The option is selected if a checkmark appears.

  5. Make the desired formatting adjustments

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.

  1. Double click the chart item you want formatted by clicking it
    The Format dialog box appears.
    NOTE: The following image is the Format dialog box for the Chart Area.
    Format Chart Area dialog box

  2. From the Categories list, select 3-D Format
    The Format dialog box refreshes to display 3-D Format options.

  3. Select the Bevel tab » make the desired adjustments

  4. Select the Depth & Surface tab » make the desired adjustments

  5. When finished, click OK
    The formatting is applied.

return to topAdjusting Chart Fonts

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

  1. Select the chart item you want formatted by clicking it
  2. Click the TOOLBOXToolbox button
    The Formatting Palette appears.

  3. From the Formatting Palette, select Font
    The Font toolbar appears.
    Font toolbar

  4. Make the desired formatting adjustments

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