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Mastering Microsoft Excel Charts

Using Excel to visually present your data

Topic: Business
Dawn Griffiths

Microsoft Excel comes with a wide variety of built-in charts that you can use to visually represent your data. They can help you see patterns and relationships, spot business trends that may otherwise go unnoticed, and communicate the meaning of your data at a glance.

This course teaches you how to make best use of Excel’s charting capabilities. You’ll learn how to create a basic chart, how to choose the best chart for your data, and how to modify all aspects of your chart design in order to best get your message across. You’ll discover how to deal with missing data, add trendlines and create combination charts. Finally, you’ll find out how to use sparklines—small charts that are displayed in a single cell—to quickly spot trends and variations in your data. By the end of the course, you will have gained full chart mastery.

What you'll learn-and how you can apply it

By the end of this live, hands-on, online course, you’ll understand:

  • How a well-made chart can quickly communicate messages about your data.
  • How to choose the best chart for your data.
  • How to use charts to spot trends and patterns.

And you’ll be able to:

  • Quickly create your choice of chart, and modify all aspects of it.
  • Handle missing data points that may otherwise distort your chart’s message.
  • Use trendlines to display general trends.

This training course is for you because...

  • You want to be able to create powerful Excel charts that convey the meaning of your data in a way that’s easy for others to read and interpret.
  • You want to be able to spot patterns and trends in your data that may otherwise go unnoticed.
  • You want to improve your Excel skills, and become an Excel power user.


  • Prior experience with basic tasks in Excel, such as creating a new worksheet and entering data into cells. Familiarity with Excel tables is helpful, but not necessary.

Recommended preparation:

  • Installation of Excel 2019 or Excel for Office 365. (Either Windows or Mac is fine.) All course demonstrations will use Excel for Office 365.
  • Read “Introduction to Formulas: Excel’s real power” in Head First Excel (book chapter)
  • Review the section on Tables at the end of Chapter 4 in the Excel 2019 Bible.

Recommended follow-up:

About your instructor

  • Dawn Griffiths has over 20 years’ experience using Excel. She’s written several books in the Head First series, including Head First Statistics, Head First 2D Geometry, Head First Android Development, and Head First Kotlin. She also developed the animated video course The Agile Sketchpad with her husband, David, as a way of teaching key concepts and techniques in a way that keeps your brain active and engaged. She has a first-class honours degree in mathematics.


The timeframes are only estimates and may vary according to how the class is progressing

Chart basics (30 minutes)

  • Presentation: Why good charts are so important.
  • Walkthrough: How to create a chart, and update its style and layout.
  • Walkthrough: How to create a chart based on table data, and the advantages of this approach.
  • Exercise: Create a chart based on a table.
  • Q&A

How and when to use common types of chart (30 minutes)

  • Presentation: How to choose the most appropriate type of chart for your data.
  • Walkthrough: How and when to use the most common chart types, such as bar charts, line charts, pie charts and scatter charts.
  • Exercises: Create different chart types based on the message you want it to convey.
  • Q&A
  • Break (10 minutes)

How to modify and customize your chart (45 minutes)

  • Presentation: Chart anatomy.
  • Walkthrough: How to add, remove and modify chart elements.
  • Exercise: Modify the elements on a chart.
  • Q&A

How and when to use uncommon types of chart (20 minutes)

  • Walkthrough: How and when to use less common chart types such as bubble charts, hierarchical charts, histograms and combination charts, and how to modify them.
  • Exercises: Create and modify some of these charts.
  • Q&A
  • Break (10 minutes)

How and when to add extra data series (30 minutes)

  • Walkthrough: How charts decide what data to display.
  • Walkthrough: How to add extra data series to charts.
  • Exercise: Add an extra data series to a chart.
  • Q&A

Data points and trendlines (25 minutes)

  • Walkthrough: Dealing with missing data points.
  • Walkthrough: Adding a trendline.
  • Exercise: Create a chart with a trendline.
  • Q&A

Sparklines (10 minutes)

  • Presentation: A sparkline is a small cell that’s displayed in a single cell.
  • Walkthrough: How to create and modify sparklines.
  • Exercise: Add sparklines to a table.
  • Q&A