Excel XP: Creating a Chart

Lesson 15: Creating a Chart



By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Identify the parts of a chart
  • Identify different types of charts
  • Create an embedded chart
  • Create a chart sheet

Understanding the different chart types

Excel XP allows you to create many different kinds of charts.

Area chart

An area chart emphasizes the trend of each value over time. It also shows the relationship of parts to a whole.

Area Chart

Column chart

A column chart uses vertical bars or columns to display values over different categories. It is ideal for showing variations in value over time.

Column Chart

Bar chart

A bar chart is similar to a column chart except it uses horizontal rather than vertical bars. Similar to the column chart, the bar chart shows variations in value over time.

Bar Chart

Line chart

A line chart shows trends and variations in data over time, displaying a series of points that are connected over time.

Line Chart

Pie chart

A pie chart displays the contribution of each value to the total. Pie charts are an effective way to display information when you want to represent different parts of the whole, or the percentages of a total.

Pie Chart

Other charts

Other charts that can be created in Excel XP include doughnut, stock XY (scatter), bubble, radar, and surface, as well as cone, cylinder, and pyramid charts.

Identifying the parts of a chart

Have you ever read something you didn't fully understand, but when you saw a chart or graph the concept became clear and understandable? Charts are a visual representation of data in a worksheet. Charts make it easy to see comparisons, patterns, and trends in data.

Relationship Between Data Source and Chart

Source data

This is the range of cells that make up a chart. The chart is updated automatically whenever the information in these cells changes.


This is the title of the chart.


This is the chart key, which details what each color on the chart represents.


This is the vertical and horizontal parts of a chart. The vertical axis is often referred to as the Y axis, while the horizontal axis is referred to as the X axis.

Data series

This is the actual charted values, which usually are rows or columns of the source data.

Value axis

This is the axis that represents the values or units of the source data.

Category axis

This is the axis identifying each data series.

Creating a chart using the Chart toolbar

Charts can be created in a number of ways in Excel XP. The quickest way to create and edit your charts is to use the Chart toolbar.

To show the Chart toolbar:

  • Choose ViewToolbarsChart on the menu bar.

    View, Toolbars and Chart Menu Selections

Parts of the Chart toolbar:

Chart Toolbar

Chart objects list box

This list box lets you select different parts of a chart for editing.

Format chart area

This is used to format the part of the chart that is currently selected.

Chart type

This is a drop-down menu that lets you select different types of charts. The chart type can be changed at any time.


This is used to show or hide the chart legend.

Data table

This is used to show or hide the actual source data that was used to create the chart.

By row

This plots the data series using the row labels (Y axis).

By column

This plots the data series using the column labels (X axis).

Angle text

This is used to rotate the angle of the X axis and Y axis labels.

Creating an embedded chart

Charts can be created in one of two ways in Excel XP: embedded charts and chart sheets. Excel creates an embedded chart by default. An embedded chart is placed on the same worksheet as the source data that was used to create it.

To embed a chart in a worksheet:

  • Choose ViewToolbarsChart on the menu bar.
  • Select the range of cells you want to chart. Your source data should include at least three categories or numbers.

    Cell Range Selected for Charting
  • Click the chart type drop-down menu on the Chart toolbar and select the chart you want to use.

    Chart Drop-down Box
  • Open the chart options dialog box by clicking ChartOptions to add a title to your chart.

    Chart and Chart Options Menu Selections
  • Select the Titles tab, and type the title of the chart in the Chart Title text box.

    Chart Options Dialog Box

Different charts work best with different data. A pie chart, for example, can only display one data series at a time.

Excel XP includes a four-step Chart Wizard you can use to guide you through the steps for creating a chart. Highlight the cell range you want to chart, choose InsertChart on the menu bar, and follow the instructions in the wizard.

Creating a chart sheet

Sometimes you may want to create a chart and place it on a separate sheet in the workbook. This is called a chart sheet. Chart sheets can make your charts stand out, particularly when you're working with complicated spreadsheets.

To move an embedded chart to a chart sheet:

  • Create an embedded chart.
  • Select the chart to be moved to a chart sheet.
  • Choose ChartLocation from the menu bar.

    Chart and Location Menu Selections
  • In the Chart Location dialog box, select As a new sheet.

    (The As object in radio button adds the chart as an embedded object on the worksheet.)

    Chart Location Dialog Box
  • Click OK. The chart is displayed on a separate chart sheet in the workbook.

    Chart Sheet

You can also use the Chart Location dialog box to rename the chart sheet.


  • Type the following information on the worksheet:

    In cell A2, type January
    In cell A3, type February
    In cell A4, type March
    In cell B1, type Bill
    In cell B2, type 3542
    In cell B3, type 7184
    In cell B4, type 6531
    In cell C1, type Mary
    In cell C2, type 2943
    In cell C3, type 6542
    In cell C4, type 7137
    In cell D1, type Bob
    In cell D2, type 3403
    In cell D3, type 7314
    In cell D4, type 6942

  • Create an embedded line chart showing the numbers on the Y axis and the months on the X axis.
  • Change the embedded line chart to an area chart.
  • Convert the embedded area chart to a chart sheet.