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Step 1 - What are Chart Items ?


The different parts that make up a chart are referred to chart items.


Holding your mouse over different parts of a chart should display a tooltip text which tells you which item you are over.


If there are no tooltips displayed then check your (Tools > Options)(Chart tab, "Show Names").


You can use the mouse to click on a chart to select a particular item or you can use the Chart toolbar.



Step 2 - Selecting Chart items


Clicking on a chart item will select that specific object within the chart. To select the actual chart object, hold down Ctrl when you select the chart.


You can use the Chart toolbar to select the item from the first drop-drop box.


Small black handles appear around the perimeter of an object to indicate that it has been selected.



All Chart Types


Chart Area - This is the area that makes up the chart. All charts have a chart area. This includes the plot area and the space outside it.


Plot Area - This is the area enclosed by the two axes. All charts have a plot area. For 3D charts, the plot area can enclose the chart axes and axes titles.


Category X Axis - This is a line along which labels for the chart's categories are arranged. Categories are individual measurements intervals or groupings for the original data. In column charts, the category axis is the horizontal line along the bottom.


Value Y Axis - This is vertical for column charts.


Data Series - A data series is a collection of data points (or markers) and normally corresponds to the data within a single row or column. This could be a series of columns, bars or a series of squares or crosses joined together by a line.


Data Point - These are used to identify individual data points on the series on a chart. Custom and Automatic.



Depends on Chart Type


Charts may or may not have all these items it will depend on the chart type.


The list of items displayed on a chart depends on the type of the chart selected.


Category X Axis Title - This can be used to display a title below the x-axis.


Value Y Axis Title - This can be used to display a title on the left of the y-axis.


Chart Title - This can contain a summary or short description of the chart.


Legend - This is used to identify the different data series on a chart.


Gridlines - These are just extensions of the axes scale which can help make it easier to estimate the value of specific data points. These can be both horizontal and vertical.


Data Marker - Is a piece of data plotted on a chart, normally corresponds to the data in a single cell. This can be a column value, bar, slice, cross or square depending on the type of the chart.


Data Table - A grid that appears in the chart displaying the exact data that is used to create the chart.


Trend line - This is an additional "best fit" straight line for a data series.


Error Bars - These can be used to display additional information, for example the amount of error or uncertainty with each data point.


Wall - This is only applicable to 3D charts. The area defined by the charts axes. It can be formatted separately from the plot area.


Floor - This is only applicable to 3D charts. It can be formatted separately from the plot area.



Step 3 - Different Chart Items


The chart area is everything within the outside border.


The plot area is everything enclosed by the axes. This does not include titles, legend, etc.

Chart AreaPlot Area

You need to select the chart area when you want to make changes to the whole chart (i.e. changing the font size displayed on all the chart items).


The plot area is the area which is enclosed by the two axis. This area can have its own border as well as a background colour.


X Axis or Category AxisY Axis or Value Axis

The X axis or category axis is always the horizontal axis along the bottom of your chart


The Y axis or value axis is always the vertical axis which is usually on the left of your chart.


Data SeriesData Point

As you hover over a particular data point on a chart a screen tip will display the value of that data point. If not then check your (Tools > Options)(Chart tab, "Show Values").


This is always the vertical axis.



Step 4 - Moving Items


Most of the items on a chart can be repositioned by clicking on an item and dragging it with the right mouse button.


The black handles also indicate that the item could be moved, resized and formatted.


All of these chart items (except the chart area) once selected can be moved around and resized relative to other items.


If you have a pie chart with a really small segment you can select this segment and drag it away from the pie chart to create an expanded pie chart ??



Step 5 - Things to Remember

  • It is possible to quickly remove an optional item from a chart by selecting it and pressing the Delete key. Alternatively you can use the right mouse button and select Clear.

  • It is probably better to remove any items such as axis titles or gridlines unless they are strictly necessary.

  • Each chart item can be formatted separately to apply different fonts, colours, borders etc.


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