Chapter 7

Working with Tables in Excel


Making charts from your tables

Putting the Data Analysis add-in to work for you

Sidestepping the Data Analysis add-in’s pitfalls

In Chapter 6, I show you how to set up a table — what a table’s structure is like, how to get Excel to help you manage it, and how to focus on specific items in the table. In other words, the dull routine of data management. Not fun, not always interesting, but necessary.

In this chapter, I get into more interesting things — certainly more colorful things. Excel’s charts are great ways to visualize what’s going on with the data in your table. They put you in a position to see patterns that are buried in the numbers. And you can use charts in some subtle ways to get more deeply into the business of sales forecasting.

I also show you how to use Excel’s Data Analysis add-in, how it interacts with tables, and how it helps you build your forecasts (as well as some annoying traps to avoid).

Turning Tables into Charts

Excel has a laundry list of charts for you to choose from — check out the Charts group on the Ribbon’s Insert tab to see some of your options. Looking at them, you may think that making the choice is just a matter of which type looks prettiest — and, truth to tell, the decision is partly a matter of what you like to look at.

Or what you can look at. I’ll never forget the client who asked me very nicely to stop using the default gray background in Excel 1997 charts. Her eyes, which were ...

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