• Trend: a general direction in which something is developing or changing.
  • Plot: to illustrate by use of a graph.

LECTURE SCRIPT (you can also turn on close captioning by clicking the CC button):

In this lecture, we cover the basics on charts and graphs, and the elements that Excel uses to create them.

Open the exercise file SECTION 01 located in the folder of your exercise files to the INTRODUCTION worksheet tab.

A CHART is a graphic representation of data, such as this line chart that shows the trend of sales in a company.

These visual representations are also referred to as GRAPHS, and even plots, in the business world, and these words are used interchangeably.

Excel charts and graphs are the easiest way to interpret and visualize data, and can help you, or someone else, understand the data presented, at a glance.

Charting and graphing data in a worksheet makes it easier to understand the data, as the viewer can pick out patterns that are difficult to see just looking at the raw data.

Typically, graphs are used to illustrate trends over time, such as the rising sales of a company.

Charts illustrate patterns or frequency, such as the number of people on a mailing list in each continent.

Before we dive into creating them, let’s understand the terminology Excel uses to represents the different elements that make up a chart or graph.

A DATA SERIES is a row and/or column of information used to create a chart.

When we click on this chart, we can see what data Excel uses, the highlighted data, to create the chart.

We can also see what Excel refers to as the CHART AREA, which is everything within the outside border of a chart.

Next is the PLOT AREA which is the inner portion of a chart, which encloses the graphical representation of the data.

The AXES are the horizontal and vertical plots on the chart, as shown by the vertical numbers, and horizontal months.

To the right of the bars is the LEGEND, which shows by color what each of the bars represent.

As shown earlier, the chart depends on the data series, and you can click on each bar which will show the series for each colored bar.

Notice that the various chart element names pop up as you hover your mouse over them.

Clicking on the graph again, three icons appear to the right,

The first is CHART ELEMENTS button, used for adding or changing the chart elements we just discussed.

The second is the CHART STYLES button, which allows you to change the overall appearance of your charts with one click.

The third is the CHART FILTERS button, which allows you to add filters to your chart, and add or subtract the amount of data shown in the chart.

Double-clicking on a chart element, such as the chart title, slides open a FORMAT WINDOW on the right on the worksheet, allowing you to change the title and text options for this element.

Clicking on another element, such as the axis, displays options for that element, and so on.

To close the format window, click on the X.

We will go into much greater detail on each of the elements and how they are controlled in later lessons.

In the next lecture, we briefly look at the two new tabs that appear when clicking on a chart, the DESIGN and FORMAT TABS.