Data displayed as lengthy pages and words can be quite tedious to digest. Lateral presentation of data helps the viewer visualize and comprehend with ease and speed. Graphs and Charts can be useful tools to represent information creatively.
Before we discuss how to make a graph in excel, it's always helpful to realize why we need them. Graphs can be quite productive because they act as visual stimulators that helps the audience connect with you quickly. In this way, you engage with the spectators, making your presentation effective.
MS Excel has a generous set of options to create everything from a simple graph to a complex one with multiple variables. But, it is you who decide what format of graph is most appropriate to the data you wish to convey.
For example, a simple line plot may be enough to represent the target achieved by a group of employees in a month. But, you may need a complex column or bar graph to depict the growth of your company in the last 5 years. Before making a graph, make sure you analyse the data and choose the right format.
Types of graphs in Excel:
- Column and Bar Graphs: They use vertical or horizontal bars to illustrate information. Primarily used to compare similar sets of data or to study changes in data over time.
- Line Chart: It displays data linearly. One of more sets of data are marked on the graph and connected by straight lines. This chronologically depicts change in the them. They are best used for timely review of any information.
- Pie Chart: While the other graphs focus on the data, a pie chart focuses more on the visual message. It tells the viewer individual contribution of each element that makes up the chart.
Now that you have made an informed choice of the type of graph you want to create, it's time to learn how to make that graph in Excel.
- Open Microsoft Excel
From MS office choose Excel and create a blank spreadsheet.
- Enter the data
In a spreadsheet the columns are alphabetized and the rows are numbered. Make a table of the data you need to illustrate graphically. Columns contain the sets of data that need to be compared, whereas the rows have the comparison parameters.
For Example, the rows hold the days of the week and the columns contain the name of the employees. The rest of the table is filled with target achieved by each employee in that week.
- Choose the graph.
Once you enter all the information, select the entire data and press INSERT in the main menu. In the toolbar below the INSERT option, choose CHART.
A drop down menu will appear with various types of graphs. Be sure to select a chart that reflects your data best visually. Click on a graph type and the resulting graph will appear on your spreadsheet.
- Add Attributes.
One a chart is inserted to your Excel sheet; you can use other options in the CHART menu to enhance your graph. For instance, you can make your chart 2D or 3D. You can add a title to your chart and choose how the x-axis and y-axis elements are written. Tweak it to make it appear the way you like.
With this basic skill and some practice, you can make a coherent and a creative graph. Also remember to choose which data is beneficial conveyed visually. Overcrowding your document with bar graphs and pie charts can also be as ineffectual as a document with no pictorial depiction.
Next time when someone asks you 'How to make a pie chart in Excel?' let's hope that your answer begins with 'That's easy, let me help you . . .'