Chapter 18. Getting Started Making Charts

When most people think of Excel, they think of crunching rows and columns of numbers. But as you probably know already, Excel is no slouch when it comes to presenting data visually in the form of a chart. In fact, Excel is probably the most commonly used software for creating charts.

This chapter presents an introductory overview of the Excel program's charting ability.


One of the new features in Excel 2010 is sparklines. A sparkline is a mini-chart that's displayed in a single cell. Because this feature is significantly different from standard charts, I devote a significant portion of Chapter 19 to sparklines.

What Is a Chart?

A chart is a visual representation of numerical 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 quite rudimentary, but they have improved significantly over the years. Excel provides you with the tools to create a wide variety of highly customizable charts.

Displaying data in a well-conceived chart can make your numbers more understandable. Because a chart presents a picture, charts are particularly useful for summarizing a series of numbers and their interrelationships. Making a chart can often help you spot trends and patterns ...

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