Excel's grid-like main window gives you lots of freedom to organize your information. As you've seen in the chapters so far, tables of data can assume a variety of shapes and sizes-from a simple list of dishes your guests are bringing to a potluck dinner, to complex worksheets that track expenses.
Some tables are quite sophisticated, with multiple levels, subtotals, and summary information. But in many cases, your table consists of nothing more than a long list of data, with a single row at the top that provides descriptive column headings. These types of tables are so common that Excel provides a set of features designed exclusively for managing them. These tools let you control your tables in style-sorting, searching, and filtering your information with just a couple of mouse clicks.
Another handy way to organize-and analyze-data is with a chart. Charts depict data visually, so you can quickly spot overall trends. They're a fabulous way to help you find the meaning hidden in large amounts of data. You can create many different types of charts in Excel, including pie charts that present polling results, line charts that plot rising or declining assets over time, and three-dimensional area charts that show relationships between environmental conditions in a scientific experiment.
This chapter gives you just a taste of what you can do with Excel's charting features. For the full story on charts, check out Excel 2007: The Missing Manual.
In this chapter, ...