Skip main navigation

Tips and tricks: Charts in Excel

Learn more tips and Tricks for Charts in Excel

Excel is a very powerful tool that can be used for a range of business functions. This software is useful for storing data sets, deductions, and calculations by feeding formulas, and creating visualisations or data stories. Using spreadsheets is no longer a novelty, and many of you will already be using this software in your business or profession. However, making a note of some tricks and tips when working with Excel won’t hurt.

Tips and tricks

Let’s look at some tips and tricks for charts in Excel.

Tip #1: Tidying up axis scales

In one of the previous activities, we used a population chart that you might have already cleaned up. Alternatively, we even tried to clean some mess around the population numbers making them easy to read. Let’s remind ourselves what it looked like to begin with.

"Graphic shows an example of a poorly bar chart. “Population” numbers across the y-xais and “County” on the y-axis. The countries are: United States, India, United States, Indonesia, and Brazil. Instead of the bars for the counties being a solid colour they have used their flags and stretched them out across they y-axis. "Click to enlarge

How do we fix this so that we can read in a scale of ‘billions’ in this chart? Follow the gif below:

GIF showingClick to enlarge

Tip #2: Formatting a date axis

With time-series line graphs, there are some improvements we can make to Excel’s default date display, especially for long-term data. Observe the chart given below:

Graphic shows a line chart. Title: “Temperature Check ¬ ION Mall”. Y-xais from bottom to top reads: 35.5, 36, 36.5, 37, 37.5, 38, 38.5. Y-axis across reads: Jan 1st 1965, Jan 1st 1970, Jan 1st 1975, Jan 1st 1980, Jan 1st 1985. There is one line. It starts at just above 38 of the y-axis and Jan 1st 1965 of the x-axis. It goes down to the middle of 37 and 37.5 between Jan 1st 1965 and Jan 1st 1970. It goes back up to 38 close to Jan 1st 1980. It then goes back down to 36.5 after Jan 1st 1985.

How do we fix this so that we read the date in the form of ‘years’ in this chart? Follow the gif below:

https://product2.s3-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/Graphics/MC_DAP02/Data-format-date.gifClick to enlarge

If you want to explore more such great chart tips using Excel, refer to the charts tips from Microsoft.

Download: Excel chart tips [1]

Do you have something else to share?

How can you develop your ideas to create efficient charts further?

Share some of your personal tips. These tips must help your fellow learners discover ways to get the most benefit from using the software.

References

  1. Ten tips for charts. Microsoft; [date unknown]. Available from: https://templates.office.com/en-sg/ten-tips-for-charts-tm22516108
This article is from the free online

Data Visualisation with Python: Matplotlib and Visual Analysis

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education