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Excel® Dashboards & Reports by John Walkenbach, Michael Alexander

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Chapter 3. Introducing Excel Charts

In This Chapter

  • What is a chart?

  • How Excel handles charts

  • Embedded charts versus chart sheets

  • The parts of a chart

  • The basic steps for creating a chart

  • Working with charts

No other tool is more synonymous with dashboards and reports than the chart. Charts offer a visual representation of numeric values, at-a-glance views that allow you to specify relationships between data values, point out differences, and observe business trends. Few mechanisms allow you to absorb data faster than a chart, which can be a key component in your dashboard.

While most people think of a spreadsheet product such as Excel, they think of crunching rows and columns of numbers. But, Excel is no slouch when it comes to presenting data visually, in the form of a chart. In this chapter we present an overview of Excel's charting ability, and show you how to create and customize your own charts using Excel.

What Is a Chart?

Let's start with the basics. A chart is a visual representation of numeric values. Charts (also known as graphs) have been an integral part of spreadsheets since the early days of Lotus 1–2–3. Charts generated by early spreadsheet products were extremely crude by today's standards. But, over the years, quality and flexibility have improved significantly. You'll find that Excel provides you with the tools to create a wide variety of highly customizable charts that can help you effectively communicate your message.

Displaying data in a well-conceived chart can make ...

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