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How to Create and Modify Charts in PowerPoint

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  • 0:02 Introduction to Charts
  • 0:48 Adding a Chart to Your Slide
  • 2:28 Working with Chart Styles
  • 4:27 Changing the Chart Type
  • 5:19 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.

Explaining facts and figures in the written form is not always easy to understand. Charts are a visual representation of data and sometimes can be easier to digest. This lesson will explain how to create charts and how to modify their style and type.

Introduction to Charts

Charts are a way to visually explain and show facts and figures in a way other than written form. For some people, it's easier to digest and understand information displayed with bar charts and pie charts. Both charts and graphs are used to demonstrate or explain numerical data; however, the two terms are different. Charts display information relating to frequency and proportions, whereas graphs are used to display trends over a period of time. You could say that graphs are a type of chart.

In this lesson, you will be introduced to charts, specifically column and bar charts. You will also learn about chart styles and how to modify the chart type.

Adding a Chart to Your Slide

One way to add a chart to your slide is to start with a blank side, insert a chart and then enter the data. In this example, we will create a column chart. We will show four stores that sell diet soda. The three top sellers are Diet Pepsi, Diet Coke and Diet Dr Pepper.

We want to see and compare how much of these soft drinks were sold in each store. The type of column chart we are going to choose is a clustered column. This means that we will be able to see each store separately, with the three soft drinks 'clustered' together. Keep in mind; we are looking at two sets of data: the stores and the soft drinks.

  1. Open/Add a blank slide and click on the Insert menu in the ribbon
  2. Click on the Chart command
  3. Choose Clustered Columns
  4. Click OK

PowerPoint actually makes it easy to add data by opening a spreadsheet to enter the information. In our example, we will add the stores in the left-hand column, or what is called the categories, and the soft drinks across the top, which is our series. Think of it like this: we want to categorize our chart by store and show a series of sales for each store. One series equals one type of soft drink.

Once you add your categories and series, then you can add the numbers. The chart will populate, update and adjust as you add the information.

Working with Chart Styles

So let's talk about working with chart styles. So far, we have created a basic chart. Nothing fancy, but the chart is definitely easier to understand than trying to explain the comparison and numbers using written form. Luckily, PowerPoint has created pre-designed chart types to help change the look without needing a lot of work.

For example, I like to see the actual numbers on my charts. Notice in the lesson video, we have blocks of numbers along the left-hand side of the chart. However, this does not give us the exact numbers we entered. Select the chart and go to the Chart Styles grouping of commands in the ribbon. Select the fourth chart from the left.

Notice in the lesson video how the look and the feel of the chart changed and the exact numbers we entered are also displayed on each bar. There are several styles to choose from, and you can get a preview of what the chart will look like by hovering your mouse over each type.

Another way to change the style and make other changes to your chart is to use the chart's shortcut icons. If you select the chart, you will notice three icons on the right-hand side, so let's briefly review each one.

  1. Chart Elements: Here, you can add or hide different components of the chart, such as adding the data table or spreadsheet to the bottom of the slide
  2. Chart Styles and Color: Another option, other than the ribbon commands, where you can change the chart style and color
  3. Chart Filters: Here, you can edit the data points in your chart, such as add or remove a category or a series

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