Excel for Mac tips

Create charts on a Mac

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Charts help you visualize your data in a way that creates the most impact on your audience.

Create a chart

  1. Select the data you want to represent in a chart.

    Tip: You can hold down the Command key to select non-contiguous ranges.

  2. Select Insert.

  3. Select from among the chart choices listed.

  4. To delete an unwanted chart, select the chart, and press Delete.

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The first step to creating a chart in Excel is to identify the data that you wish to show in a chart.

In Excel, a chart means you've got numeric data that you'd like to depict graphically.

With no numbers you really can't create a chart.

We've got some numbers over here on this Worksheet, it's called DataSelection.

We're looking at a file called Ch_01_Chart Creation.

Now, we might not want to show all the numbers here, and often if you've got totals and details together, it's probably not a great idea to show both of them.

What you wouldn't necessarily know at first is that adjacent labels, for example these labels right here, that describe the data in the columns below, and the labels that we see in Column A that describe the data in the rows to the right.

This information can be used intelligently in charts, and in the two examples we see to the right we do see how those are being used.

So, when we select data to put into a chart, we usually include those labels along with the numbers, and most of the time when you're selecting data to go into a chart, it's contiguous data in one rectangular grouping.

In this case, let's say we do not want the totals along with the detail, just the detail itself for each of the six months for the four regions.

Insert tab in the ribbon has some chart choices right here.

Column, probably the most common chart type in Excel, and Clustered Column within that the most common type. We've got a chart.

Not perfect in all respects but let's say [sic] as we look at it briefly here, we've got a legend across the bottom that explains what each of the colors mean.

Each cluster of columns is identified by a month.

We don't have a chart title in there, of course we will click that and type that in later.

The numbers down the left hand side need a description perhaps, but with the data nearby we could forgo that even.

It doesn't take long to create a chart.

Now, I want to show you what would happen if we did include the totals.

Going back to the data I will include the totals.

Nobody is going to stop you from doing this.

I think most of the time it makes for an unsatisfactory chart.

I'll go back to Insert, and choose Column, and Clustered, and there we see what's happening.

So, that's why the recommendation was earlier, don't mix totals and details together.

Certainly not wrong in one sense because you can do it, but not recommended.

I just pressed the Delete key and the chart disappears, and with that recognition too, you realize that when you create a chart sometimes it doesn't look the way you want.

Sometimes you want to start over and maybe you did select the wrong data.

Just by clicking the chart, pressing the Delete key, the chart is gone.

Now, there will be times when you say, "Well, I don't want to show all this data."

Already we've decided that by not showing the total and the average, but what if we wanted to show some of the data here but not Asia, maybe Domestic, Europe and Latin America.

If we start to highlight the data above this, and then stop, let go of the left mouse button, we can then hold down the Command key, and highlight the appropriate Latin American data.

When you're highlighting noncontiguous ranges, you can use the Command key to highlight a different range.

Visualize these ranges as coming together as a rectangle, and usually when you do that you're likely to come up with a sensible chart.

Let's go back to the Insert tab.

This time we'll chose Column again, Clustered Column, and we see the data looking very much like our first chart except this one is Domestic, Europe, and Latin America with no Asia.

So, fewer columns in each cluster there.

There could be times too when you say, "I want just this data being shown," for example.

How about just the total data here? Let's show that by way of a Pie Chart.

We would want the labels over in column A to be included, so once again, letting go of the left mouse button, moving over to cell A4, hold down the Command key, highlight these cells right here.

This time we'll go to the Insert tab, and off to the right we'll chose Pie, maybe a 3-D Pie.

Click that, we've got a chart. The legend tells us we can later add labels here that gives us percentages. We do see those in column Iby the way.

This gives us a breakout too, and notice again the data that was highlighted over there, and I did start by highlighting cell A4, but it has no meaning in the chart.

So, highlighting noncontiguous areas makes sense.

Sometimes you want to show just some of the data as we saw it here.

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