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You can create and modify charts in Microsoft Excel. To do so, you should have a basic understanding of the terminology used in the documentation, dialog boxes, and Help.
The following list contains the definitions of basic terms used in charting in Microsoft Excel.
AutoFormatSimilar to template or style, an AutoFormat can change the entire look of the chart but does not affect your data. AutoFormats can be custom (user- defined) or built-in.
Category NameIndividual label on x-axis, also known as tick-mark labels.
Chart AreaThe entire chart, contains all of the data series, the axes, titles and legend.
Chart SheetA separate sheet in the workbook devoted solely to the chart.
Chart TitleThe title or name of chart usually identifying what data depicts, most often found at center top of chart area.
Chart Type GroupOne or more data series of the same type plotted to the same Value (Y) axis, listed at bottom of Format menu as Column Group, Line Group, Area Group, Area Group 2, and so on.
Chart WizardA series of dialog boxes that simplifies creation of a chart into a step- by-step process that verifies the data selection, shows possible chart types to be used, gives options for additional items such as titles and legend.
Data LabelValue or name assigned to individual data points. Display on chart is optional.
Data PointsThese are values from cells on worksheets, displayed as bars, lines, columns, pie slices, or other shapes in the chart.
Data SeriesA group of data points such as the entire line in a chart.
Drop LinesVertical lines extending from the data point to the category (x) axis that can be used on area and line charts. To set, click the appropriate chart type group on the Format menu and select the check box on the Options tab.
Embedded ChartThis is a chart as an object on the worksheet which can be printed in association with other data or as a separate item. Best when the data needs to be shown in context of the worksheet data.
Error BarsError bars graphically express potential errors relative to each data marker in a series. Use error bars in charts to indicate the degree of uncertainty (that is, the "plus or minus" range) for the data plotted in a data series. You can add error bars to data series formatted as area, bar, column, line and xy (scatter) chart groups. All five chart types show y error bars corresponding to the value axis. XY charts can also display x error bars of the category axis.
ExplodeThis is the action of pulling the pieces of a pie or doughnut chart away from each other; can be done to one or more slices.
Gap WidthThe value that controls the spaces between cluster of columns or bars, the higher the gap width value, the larger the space between clusters of data markers.
GridlineLines across plot area for easy reference back to axes.
High-Low LinesThe lines that connect highest and lowest value for a category across all series. Can be used on line chart. To set, choose the appropriate chart type group from the Format menu and select the check box on the Options tab.
LegendBox that shows identifying names and symbols for each data series.
Nonadjacent SelectionsAlso called discontiguous selections, data that is separated by other data or blank rows or columns not to be used in the chart.
OrientationRefers to data to be charted and whether it is in rows or columns.
Overlap ValueValue that controls the overlap of data points within a cluster of columns or bars. The higher the overlap value, the more the data markers are overlapped.
Plot AreaThe part of the chart bound by the vertical and horizontal axes and their opposing sides.
Secondary Value AxisAdditional value axis that appears on the opposite side of the plot area from the Primary Value axis. It is used when plotting mixed types of data, such as Quantity and Price, where different scales are desired.
Series line(s)The lines between stacked columns that connect the top of each series within the stack. Can be used on stacked bar charts. To set, click the appropriate chart type group on the Format menu and select the check box on the Options tab.
SubtypeVariation of a basic chart type.
Tick-markIndicators on the axes used to mark off division of scale and/or category or separate series groups on x-axis.
TrendlineTrendlines graphically illustrate trends in data series. Trendlines are commonly used when you are charting problems of prediction, also called regression analysis.
Up-down BarsBars that extend between the highest and lowest value for a category. Up bars are white, and down bars are black. They can be used on a line chart. To set, click the appropriate chart type group on the Format menu and select the check box on the Options tab. Gap width can be set for these bars.
X-axis TitleTitle or name of what the Category (X) axis is showing, for example, an explanation of labels.
Y-axis TitleTitle or name of what the Value (Y) axis is showing, for example, an explanation of scale. The following are set in the Format 3-D View dialog box:
To set the following, click the chart type group on the Format menu and click the Options tab:
Elevation Height from which you view 3-D chart data. Rotation Rotates the chart sideways. Perspective The ratio of the width of the front to the back, or how distant the rear data markers appear to be. Corner(s) The points defined by the walls/floor in a 3-D chart plot area. Can be use to adjust elevation, rotation and perspective.
Chart depth The shape of the chart base. Gap depth The depth between 3-D columns. Gap width The spacing between 3-D columns.
Article ID: 151364 - Last Review: January 19, 2007 - Revision: 2.2
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