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Charts in PowerPoint: Legends, Parameters and Importing

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  • 0:03 Charts in PowerPoint
  • 0:37 Quick Review
  • 0:58 Working with Legends
  • 3:11 Changing the Data
  • 4:04 Importing Charts
  • 4:59 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Karen Sorensen

Karen has a Bachelors in Communications. She has 25 years of experience in Information Systems, Adult Learning and Virtual Training.

Charts are a way to graphically compare numerical data and trends. This lesson will review how to add a chart to a PowerPoint slide, how to work with legends and parameters and also how to import data from an external source, such as MS Excel.

Charts in PowerPoint

A chart allows you to communicate your data graphically on a slide. Displaying charts in PowerPoint gives your audience the meaning behind the numbers, and they make explaining comparisons and trends easier to understand.

In this lesson, we will start with a quick review on how to add a chart. Then we will look at how to add, remove and change the placement of a legend, how to change the parameters, or data, and then finally how to import a chart from an external source, such as Microsoft Excel.

Quick Review

For our review, we'll add a clustered column chart.

  1. Start with a blank slide and select the Insert menu in the ribbon.
  2. Click on the Chart Command.
  3. Choose Clustered Columns and click OK.

You're all set. PowerPoint opens a spreadsheet to enter the information.

Working with Legends

Our chart will compare the sales of diet soft drinks in four different store locations. Before we begin to look at legends, let me explain the two major components in a chart.

  • Categories: these are the components along the left side of the spreadsheet. On a chart, these are commonly referred to as the Y-axis. In our example, it's the stores.
  • Series: the components along the top of the spreadsheet. On a chart, these are commonly referred to as the X-axis. And in our example, it's the diet soft drinks.

A legend captions the series and identifies each one with a different color. It's considered a chart element, and although legends are not always necessary, they tell you what each column or bar represents. Legends make it easier for the audience to understand the chart.

In the lesson video, we have an example of a clustered column chart. There are four stores, and the chart is detailing the sales of three different diet drinks for each store. The legend is displayed at the bottom of the chart, and each color represents a different soft drink. Each soft drink is a different series. Without the legend and colors, it would be difficult to determine which column is the diet Pepsi and which one is the diet Coke.

If you select the chart, three icons will appear to the right of the chart. Click on the top icon, or plus symbol, to display the chart elements. By adding or removing a checkmark to the box beside an element, you are choosing to display or not to display the element on the chart. For example, we can click on the box for the Legends element to remove the checkmark. This will remove the legend from the chart.

In addition, if you hover your mouse over the elements, a greater than symbol, or sideways triangle, will appear to the right of the element name. Clicking on the symbol will expand a window that will give you options for the placement of the legend.

Changing the Data

One way to change the data, or parameters, you are using for your chart is to right-click on the chart, select Edit Data from the menu and then choose Edit Data from the drop-down list. This will load your spreadsheet of information, and from here, you can change the categories, change the series and change any of the numerical information. Another option for changing the parameters is by using the ribbon commands.

  1. Select the chart.
  2. Go to Chart Tools in the ribbon and click on Design.
  3. Click on the Edit Data command to load the spreadsheet.
  4. Make your changes, and the chart will update automatically.

Either way works perfectly. You will find your personal preference. Me? I like the right-click option for most commands.

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