If you working on Microsoft Excel, then you simply cannot afford to leave this article without finding out how you can use the Excel charting feature to its maximum.
1. Amongst other goals, charts should tell stories. Charts should tell visual stories that describe patterns and trends in the data.
2. Good charting should give the viewer the greatest number of ideas in the shortest time with the least ink in the smallest space.
3. The purpose of formatting a chart is to make the chart easier for the viewer to understand. Too little formatting can leave a chart ambiguous.
4. Charting and graphing can take large sets of data and help to uncover patterns, trends, or to reveal relationships between data sets; this in turn can help to make business decisions.
5. Embedded Charts (on top of a sheet) are useful when you have a dynamic data set and want to see the chart change as the data changes and Chart Sheets are useful when you are printing or want to use the chart for a presentation.
6. Bar charts compare values across categories in a horizontal orientation. Values are indicated by the length of the bars. Column charts compare values across categories in a vertical orientation. Values are indicated by the length of the columns. Bar charts tend to emphasize differences better then a Column chart.
7. If you want to emphasize a trend in data points over time it is best to use a Line chart; whereas if you want to emphasize the difference between data points it is better to use a Column or Bar chart.
8. The XY (Scatter) chart plots numeric values on both the X- and Y-axes based on the value of the data (whereas a line chart plots numeric values on one axis and category labels equidistantly on the other axis).
9. A Line chart should be used instead of a XY (Scatter) chart when comparing sets of numerical data on just one axis. An XY (Scatter) should be used instead of a line chart when comparing sets of numerical data on two axes.
10. When making a pie chart, it is mandatory that you NOT include the total as one of the pie slices. The whole pie together is the total.
11. A pie chart with 30 slices can be cluttered and confusing. One solution is to make a Pie of Pie chart.
12. 3-D Pie charts are misleading because they distort the pie proportions.
13. Stacked Area and Line charts can be misleading because they can give the impression that each line represents the actual values in the data series.