Excel charts | CSE 148 – Excel Exam 1

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Excel charts explained

Simply put, Excel charts are how we make sense of data.

For example, only looking at the following table, can you tell me about how well your lemonade stand is doing growing revenue and reducing costs?

You probably could... eventually. But it'd be inefficient. And a waste of time. And stupid.

Introducing, Excel charts!

See how easy it is to now understand more about the lemonade stand?

Excel charts enable us to make sense of data in an efficient and easy to visualize manner.

Let's figure out how we can customize an Excel chart to match the one above!

Creating an Excel chart

Notice: While there are many different chart types in Excel, we'll be focusing on the most common one: line graphs.

Creating an Excel chart is the easy part, the difficulty comes in to how you want to style it.

Given the above data, if I wanted to create a chart all I'd need to do is highlight my data, then navigate to the "Insert" tab in the ribbon and select the chart style that I want to represent my data! In our case, we'll select a basic line graph.

A pro tip with Excel charts: if you're unsure which type of chart to use, check out the recommended ones from Excel!

Inserting chart title

If you need to edit the title of your chart, all you need to do is double click the title and start editing!

In this case, we'll name our chart "Lemonade Stand Business Review".

Changing the style

What if I wanted my chart to have more of a darker vibe with a yellow tint?

To modify this, all I'd need to do is go to the "Chart Design" tab in the ribbon and scroll till I find a chart design that matches my liking.

Then, I can select "Change Colors" and pick a scheme that's a little more yellow.

Editing the axis


What if I wanted my y-axis labels to be in hundreds, and for the numbers to be in "$" and have an extra decimal place on the end?

To first make my labels in hundreds, click on the y-axis values, then right-click and select "Format Axis", then in "Display units" select "Hundreds".

Next, to make the labels in "$" and have one decimal place, I'd navigate to the "Number" section of the "Format Axis" pane. I'd then select the "Currency" category. After that, I'd specify that I only want 1 decimal place.


On my x-axis, let's say that we only want to display every-other week value and that I wanted to add tick marks at each value.

To start, I can click on the x-axis values, then scroll down to the "Labels" section of the "Format Axis" pane and code the value 2 into the "Specify interval unit" field.

Next, to add tick marks go to the "Tick Marks" section of the "Format Axis" pane and select the "Outside" value for both "Major type" and "Minor type".

Adding data labels

Sometimes it's valuable to know the specific value of each point on the line. To accomplish this, click on a point in the revenue line, then right click and select "Add data labels".

I can then edit these data labels by right clicking again and selecting "Edit data labels". For example, what if I wanted the labels to appear above the point on the line? I can do this by scrolling down and selecting the "Above" option in the "Label Position" field.

Including a trendline

Say we wanted to visualize a trendline of how our revenue is growing. To do so, just click on a point in the revenue line, then right click and select "Add Trendline...".

What if I wanted to edit this trendline though? I can right click again on the line and select "Format Trendline". Here I could for example make the trendline logarithmic instead of linear by clicking the "Logarithmic" option in the "Trendline Options" section.

Modifying the data range

Say for some random reason we wanted to exclude weeks 1 and 2 from consideration on our chart.

To do this, I'd click on my chart and then put my cursor in the corner of my data values (highlighted in blue). Then, I'd drag down until the first 2 weeks were out of consideration.

While you won't often use this feature, it's important to know how to modify the data that's being represented in the chart.

Practice problem

You and your friends are absurdly bored one day and decide to drive to Walmart, buy a bag of marbles, return home, then drop them on the floor and see who can retrieve the most. Here are the results:

Create an orange colored pie chart with Style 2 that shows each persons' percentage of the marbles (labeled within the pie chart) along with their name. Place the legend (with their names) on the left side of the chart. Your final pie chart should look like this:

Hint: if you're stuck getting the person's name next to their percentage within the pie chart, tinker with the "Category Name" checkbox field.

Watch the GIF below to see how you should've set up your Excel chart!

Not shown in GIF: To move the legend to the left side, right-click on the names and click "Format Legend...", then select "Left" as the Legend Position.

Excel (Exam 1) Follow-along Guide

It's no secret you retain info better when you write it down. That's why I created the Excel (Exam 1) Follow-along Guide for you!

As you come upon key concepts highlighted in yellow, like this sentence here, you can fill-in-the-blanks on your Follow-along Guide so that you remember all the important stuff for later!

You can obtain the Excel (Exam 1) Follow-along Guide for FREE by entering your email below!

Next, let's learn how to use text files to import data!

Free Resources

Each exam concept broken down in simple, real-world examples!

ToolsExcel (Exam 1) Follow-along Guide
LessonSUM & AutoSUM
LessonRelative vs. Absolute Cell References
LessonPercent change
LessonExcel charts
LessonImporting text files

Practice Problems

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Oct. 24, 2021

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