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You can create and modify charts in Microsoft Excel. This article explains some of the charting terms used in the Excel product documentation, dialog boxes, and Help.
The following list contains the definitions of basic terms used in charting in Microsoft Excel.
AutoformatSimilar to a 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 NameAn individual label on the x axis, also known a tick-mark label.
Chart AreaThe entire chart; contains all of the data series, axes, titles, and legends.
Chart SheetA separate sheet in the workbook devoted solely to the chart.
Chart TitleThe title or name of the chart, usually identifying what the data depicts, and most often found at the top-center of the chart area.
Chart Type GroupOne or more data series of the same type plotted to the same value (y) axis, and listed at the bottom of the 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, and gives options for additional items such as titles and legends.
Data LabelThe value or name assigned to individual data points. Its display on the chart is optional.
Data PointsValues from cells on worksheets, displayed as bars, lines, columns, pie slices, or other shapes on a chart.
Data SeriesA group of data points, such as the entire line on a chart.
Drop LinesVertical lines extending from the data point to the category (x) axis, which can be used on area and line charts. To set, click the appropriate chart type group on the Format menu, and then click to select the check box on the Options tab.
Embedded ChartA chart as an object on the worksheet, which can be printed in association with other data or as a separate item. Best used 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.
ExplodeThe 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 clusters of columns or bars; the higher the gap width value, the larger the space between clusters of data markers.
GridlineLines across the plot area, allowing for easy reference back to the axes.
High-Low LinesThe lines that connect the highest and lowest value for a category across all series. Can be used on a line chart. To set, select the appropriate chart type group from the Format menu, and then click to select the check box on the Options tab.
LegendA box 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 particularly to whether it is in rows or columns.
Overlap ValueThe value that controls the overlap of data points within a cluster of columns or bars. The higher the overlap value, the greater the overlap between data markers.
Plot AreaThe part of the chart bound by the vertical and horizontal axes and their opposing sides.
Secondary Value AxisAn additional value axis that appears on the opposite side of the plot area from the primary value axis. Used when plotting mixed types of data, such as quantity and price, where different scales are required.
Series LinesThe 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 then click to 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 to separate series groups on the x axis.
TrendlineTrendlines graphically illustrate trends in data series. They are commonly used when charting problems of prediction, a process 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 then click to 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 then click the Options tab:
Elevation Height from which you view 3-D chart data. Rotation The action of rotating 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.