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Change the chart styles

What chart styles are available to apply to your Excel charts, and how do you select one to best present your data? Learn more in this article.

Once you’ve chosen the right chart type for your data, it’s time to apply some style.

chart style gallery

On the Design tab of the ribbon, the chart styles gallery offers a selection of chart styles. Each style in the gallery houses a collection of chart elements and effects. Hover your cursor over these styles and your chart will display a live preview of what your chart will look like with each style applied.

Notice the change in how each shape is displayed. Some have a solid fill, some have a gradient fill and some a transparent fill. Some of the styles have a glow effect, a shadow effect, and soft or beveled edges. Also, notice the text formatting changes from one style to the next and the elements that are applied. Some of the styles have the legend applied and some have data labels, some have gridlines and some have different formatting applied to the plot or chart area.

Click a style in the style gallery to apply any of the chart styles to your chart.

Your chart style isn’t set in stone, you can easily change the style or change individual elements applied.

Chart colours

chart colours

Also in the Chart styles group on the Design tab is the ‘Change Colors’ drop-down. Click the drop-down, hover over the various colour schemes for a preview and click to apply.

As it’s easier to tell the difference between one series and the next with the colourful colour schemes, I like to stick with those, but it depends on what data you’re presenting. Perhaps the different series don’t always need to be illustrated in stark contrast to each other.

Chart layouts

chart layouts

In the Chart Layouts group, the ‘Quick Layouts’ provide a gallery of just chart elements. To quickly apply a collection of elements in various positions, use the Quick Layouts. Notice as you hover over each quick layout, your chart updates with a live preview.

Some of the quick layouts have data labels applied (inside or outside of the shape), and some don’t have data labels. Some of the quick layouts have a legend (at the top, bottom left or right), and some don’t have a legend. Some of the layouts have a title, or axis titles, gridlines, data tables, or series lines. Click on whichever quick layout you think enhances your data visualisation. Not to worry if none of them are exactly what your chart needs, as we can apply and re-position each chart element individually.

Chart elements

chart elements

In the Chart Elements group, click the Add Chart Element drop-down to see a list of individual chart elements. Clicking any of the chart elements will provide a pop-out menu, listing options for the selected element. Hover over each of the options to see a live preview of each element option applied to your chart.

At the bottom of each pop-out menu, there is a ‘More Options’ button that will launch the format chart element pane. Explore the options in this pane to customise the appearance of each chart element.

Workbook theme

workbook theme

You may have noticed that between one workbook and another, you have different options in the Chart Styles gallery and the ‘Change Colors’ menu. The styles and colours available in the galleries and colour palette are determined not by the chart type selected, but by the theme applied to the entire workbook. The theme affects the default colours applied and the colours available in the colour palettes, the default fonts and the shape effects available in the shape styles gallery.

To change the workbook theme, from the ‘Page Layout’ ribbon tab, within the ‘Themes’ group, choose a new theme from the themes menu (to change the colours, fonts and shape styles), or just choose a new colour scheme from the colours drop-down menu. Hover over each colour scheme for a preview before applying and notice the colours of everything in your worksheet update.

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