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Microsoft Excel 2003/2004

Getting Ready to Chart

Excel offers several options for designing worksheets along with creating and modifying charts. Even before you make your chart, however, you should consider creating range names for your data. Specifying range names in advance will decrease the potential for errors and enable you to add more data at a later date.

return to topDesigning Your Worksheet for Charting

You have two basic options for setting up your worksheet. First, you can design your worksheet so the information to be charted is close together. Second, you can create a summary section for charting.The right option for you will often depend on what the worksheet is designed to do. Often worksheets are designed to track information; later on, charting becomes a secondary purpose. With this type of worksheet, a summary section may be the easiest. You can summarize the detailed data in a different area on your worksheet and make it much easier for charting.

A summary section will include the information to be charted in a contiguous group. The more complete the summary section, the less work you will have to do when creating your chart. Based on the Charting Rules, an organization similar to the following graphic will make it easiest for automatic charting. While this setup may not always be appropriate, keep in mind the format can reduce the amount of adjustments required for your charts.

Example of summary section

This sample worksheet section was used to create the following chart. Aside from telling Excel to create a chart and indicating where the chart was to appear, the default setup created the chart.

Chart resulting from summary section

Charts can be enhanced by modifying the individual chart elements or by adding a new data series. Notice that the chart title and subtitle are not included in the chart. Excel requires that these be added after the chart is created or during the Chart Wizard process.

return to topRecommended: Range Names

Before you create your chart, you should create a range name to represent the data on your worksheet. Range names refer to specific groups of cells and are often used for cell references in functions, charting, and printing. Using range names when creating a chart rather than using the cell references will reduce the chance of error and allow you to add data to your chart in the future. For more information on range names, refer to Working with Range Names or Working with Ranges / Data Series.

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