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.
- Open/Add a blank slide and click on the Insert menu in the ribbon
- Click on the Chart command
- Choose Clustered Columns
- 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.
- 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
- Chart Styles and Color: Another option, other than the ribbon commands, where you can change the chart style and color
- Chart Filters: Here, you can edit the data points in your chart, such as add or remove a category or a series
Changing the Chart Type
The last topic of our lesson is changing the chart type. You have seen an example of a column chart, but what if we wanted to change the type to a bar chart? What's the difference? Well, a column chart displays the bars in columns, or vertical, and a bar chart displays the bars from left to right, or horizontal.
To change the type, select the chart and click on the Change Chart Type command. There are many different types to choose from, but let's choose the Bar option. Now the chart displays horizontal.
It really depends on your preference. The best way to find out what types of charts you prefer is to create a chart, then select it and review each type. In other words, a bit of practice may be needed.
In this lesson, you learned that charts are a good solution to aid in the explanation of facts and figures. You learned how to insert a chart by going to the Insert menu in the ribbon and clicking on the Chart command. PowerPoint opens a spreadsheet to enter the data that includes a place to add the category and series.
You also learned how to select one of the pre-designed chart styles to quickly change the look of your chart and that some styles include more detailed information and numbers. Finally, you learned the difference between a column chart, which has vertical bars, and a bar chart, which has horizontal bars. You learned how to change the type and that PowerPoint offers several different types to choose from. With a little practice, you will become an expert with charts and be able to display facts and figures in a way that many people prefer over the written form.
You should have learned to do the following after watching this video lesson:
- Explain why charts are important in the explanation of facts and figures
- List the steps in inserting a chart into a PowerPoint slide
- Describe how to change the style of a chart
- Demonstrate how to change the chart type