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XL2000: Glossary of Charting Terminology

This article was previously published under Q214240
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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 incharting in Microsoft Excel.


Similar 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 Name

An individual label on the x axis, also known a tick-mark label.

Chart Area

The entire chart; contains all of the data series, axes, titles, andlegends.

Chart Sheet

A separate sheet in the workbook devoted solely to the chart.

Chart Title

The 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 Group

One 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 Wizard

A series of dialog boxes that simplifies creation of a chart into a step-by-step process that verifies the data selection, shows possible charttypes to be used, and gives options for additional items such as titles andlegends.

Data Label

The value or name assigned to individual data points. Its display on the chart is optional.

Data Points

Values from cells on worksheets, displayed as bars, lines, columns, pie slices, or other shapes on a chart.

Data Series

A group of data points, such as the entire line on a chart.

Drop Lines

Vertical 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 Chart

A chart as an object on the worksheet, which can be printed inassociation with other data or as a separate item. Best used when the dataneeds to be shown in context of the worksheet data.

Error Bars

Error bars graphically express potential errors relative to each datamarker in a series. Use error bars in charts to indicate the degree ofuncertainty (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 xerror bars of the category axis.


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 Width

The value that controls the spaces between clusters of columns or bars; thehigher the gap width value, the larger the space between clusters of datamarkers.


Lines across the plot area, allowing for easy reference back to the axes.

High-Low Lines

The 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.


A box that shows identifying names and symbols for each data series.

Nonadjacent Selections

Also called discontiguous selections; data that is separated by other dataor blank rows or columns not to be used in the chart.


Refers to data to be charted, and particularly to whether it is in rows or columns.

Overlap Value

The 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 Area

The part of the chart bound by the vertical and horizontal axes and theiropposing sides.

Secondary Value Axis

An additional value axis that appears on the opposite side of the plot areafrom the primary value axis. Used when plotting mixed types of data, such as quantity and price, where different scales are required.

Series Lines

The lines between stacked columns that connect the top of each serieswithin the stack. Can be used on stacked bar charts. To set, click theappropriate chart type group on the Format menu, and then click to select the check box on the Options tab.


Variation of a basic chart type.


Indicators on the axes used to mark off division of scale and/or category,or to separate series groups on the x axis.


Trendlines graphically illustrate trends in data series. They are commonly used when charting problems of prediction, a process also called regression analysis.

Up-down Bars

Bars that extend between the highest and lowest value for a category. Upbars 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 Title

Title or name of what the category (x) axis is showing -- for example, an explanation of labels.

Y-axis Title

Title 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:
   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.				
To set the following, click the chart type group on the Format menu, and then click the Options tab:
   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: 214240 - Last Review: 10/14/2013 15:29:28 - Revision: 3.1

Microsoft Excel 2000 Standard Edition

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