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Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 : Working with Charts - Understanding Charts

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11/19/2014 8:25:19 PM

Charts enable you to display, analyze, and compare numerical data in a graphical format. For example, you can use a column chart to compare sales revenue by region over a period of time (see Figure 1). Or you can create a pie chart that illustrates the percentage of revenue each of your product lines contributes to your total company revenue (see Figure 2).

Figure 1. Compare data with a column chart.


Figure 2. Analyze percentages with a pie chart.


PowerPoint also offers a vast array of design and formatting options to make your charts as aesthetically pleasing as they are informational, giving your presentation the wow factor.

PowerPoint 2010 uses the worksheet and charting tools available in Excel 2010 to create charts. When you insert a chart, a separate Excel window opens where you enter data that PowerPoint then uses to create a chart. Note that you must have Excel installed for this feature to work properly. You can also create a chart directly in Excel and insert it into your presentation.


Understanding Chart Terminology

Before creating a chart, it’s a good idea to learn—or refresh your memory about—basic chart terminology. Table 1 lists the basic concepts you need to understand to make the most of PowerPoint chart functionality.

Table 1. Chart Terminology
TermDefinition
AxisA line defining the chart area. PowerPoint charts have two axes: a vertical axis that displays data (the y-axis) and a horizontal axis that displays categories (the x-axis).
Chart areaThe entire chart and all its components.
Data labelA label that provides information about a data marker.
Data pointsValues that display on a chart in the form of columns, bars, or pie slices, for example. A data marker represents each individual data point.
Data seriesA group of related data points on a chart, identified by a specific color or pattern.
LegendA small box that describes the patterns or colors used to distinguish chart data series or categories.
Plot areaThe area of the chart included inside the axes.

Understanding Chart Types

PowerPoint offers multiple chart types, each with several variations to choose from. For example, if you want to create a column chart, PowerPoint offers 19 different variations of the basic column chart, including options for creating 3-D, clustered, pyramid, and cone column charts.

The total number of chart types—more than 70 in all—can become overwhelming. To choose the right chart type, think carefully about the information you want to present and the message you want to convey with this data, and then select a chart type suited to your data. From there, choose the variation that provides the optimal visual impact and works well with your PowerPoint theme. If you don’t have a lot of experience creating charts, you might need to experiment to find just the right match.


Table 2 lists PowerPoint chart types.

Table 2. PowerPoint Chart Types
Chart TypeDescription
ColumnCompare data in two or more vertical columns. This chart type works well if you want to compare categories or data across a specific time span.
LineDisplay data across a line with markers for each value.
PieDisplay a round pie-shaped chart with percentages of a total.
BarCompare data in two or more horizontal bars.
AreaDisplay value trends in a single area.
X Y (Scatter)Compare data with lines and markers.
StockDisplay stock data (or other scientific data) in terms of volume and open, high, low, and close value.
SurfaceDisplay numeric data in 3-D columns and rows.
DoughnutDisplay a round pie-shaped chart that can include multiple series of data.
BubbleDisplay x and y values in columns with an additional value appearing as a bubble.
RadarCompare the value of several series of data.
 
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