Many a times, when the data is raw and unorganized, it becomes extremely difficult for a person to summarize and understand the data comprehensively. It is not only tiring and mind-straining, but also unpleasant and difficult to visualize. At these times, creation of graphs and charts come to the rescue, that help to summarize, visualize and analyze the data in a structured and organized format, which is extremely easy to comprehend as well as well-presented.
In a nutshell, graphs and charts are a wonderful way to visualize data in an effective and efficient manner. Constructing graphs and charts is extremely essential in most of the entrepreneurial tasks for representing and visualizing data in a clear and pristine manner. While making them manually can be erroneous and intimidating, using Excel to build graphs and charts is extremely easy.
Charts and Graphs
Charts and Graphs, technically, are different things and are independent of each other, whereas in the practical world, they are used interchangeably and are widely acceptable as ways of representing data.
Charts are a pictorial representation of variation in values of data as different data parameters differ whereas graphs are used for representing variations in values of data points over a given duration of time. They are simpler than charts as they involve variations in values of data for different parameters, and thus can easily be plotted, by considering the change in the value of one parameter with respect to another. Comparing segments of the same nature or field is more difficult, than comparing with another field or parameter.
Varieties of Graphs in Excel
Excel is used essentially for data analysis and data graphs and charts are the best way of visualizing and analyzing data. Excel offers three types of graphs:
Line Graphs are a type of graph in Excel that are used to represent change in a data parameter with respect to another by showing absolute change or derivational change in the values of data parameter with respect to another. They are both 2D as well as 3D and are used to represent trend over a period of time.
Column graphs provide a direct view onto the change in the value of data parameters, but cannot be used to calculate derivational change. Thus, they do not provide the same clarity as Line Graphs. The constant parameter is assigned to X Axis whereas variables are plotted against X Axis.
Bar graphs are, logically, extremely similar to column graphs but here, the constant parameter (say time) is assigned to the Y axis and the variables are plotted against the X axis. They too, provide a direct view onto the change in the value of data parameters, but cannot be used to calculate derivational change.
Creating Graphs in Excel
The process of representing data in Excel through graphs is typical and can be easily structured into the following steps:
- Enter the data into Excel spreadsheet for which graph needs to be created.
- Click on Insert Tab on the Menu Bar and further click on the type of graph you want to insert under Charts section.
Selection of the appropriate graph for data representation is as necessary as the process of creating a data, since the following graph needs to meet the requirements of the user, that is, of easy and effective data analysis and visualization.
- Choose the fields which need to be used as data parameters, whose variation needs to be studied.
- Right Click on the graph inserted and click on Select Data, to select the Chart Data Range.
Click on Switch Row/Column if the need arises to switch axis.
- Click on graph and further click on Layout Tab on Menu bar to adjust the labels and legends of the layout. A preferred layout for chart title, axis title as well as legend can be chosen as desired by you.
- Choose the appropriate axis scale as desired, by right clicking on the axis and further choosing Format Axis option, to make the necessary changes.
- Make the necessary changes, reorder the data and the requisite graph would be created.
Using Graph Tools
The graph feature of MS Excel is essential and instrumental for data analysis and makes the process of visualization of data extremely simplified and effective. However, Excel further facilitates this feature towards a better mode of usage for its users by providing various chart tools that are used to enhance this feature and further, make data investigation easier.
The design of graph and its associated parameters can easily be changed as desired by the user by the use of Chart Tools, which occurs as an Excel Header, when the graph generated is clicked.
Chart Tools Provided
The Design tab, available on Menu Bar of Chart Tools, is a feature of MS Excel that allows you to position your graph in the desired place in spreadsheet or workbook. It also provides the user to chance to select the data upon which the data is constructed, and thus, paves the way of editing data for user.
It also gives user the freedom to change the type of chart as well as allows to experiment with different chart layouts. This feature thus ensures that the design of chart based upon data values can easily be edited by the user, once created.
The Layout Tab, available on Menu Bar, under Chart Tools is a feature that allows you to change the title of the axis, the title of your chart as well as the position of the legend. You can also change the view type and go with vertical text along the Y axis and horizontal text along the X axis or vice-versa. It gives the user the chance to insert a text box, picture or shape, while at the same time, dealing with the axis and background of the graph. Thus, it allows the user to modify the layout of the graph or chart generated easily.
The Format tab, available on Menu Bar, under Chart Tools is a feature of MS Excel that allows you to add a border of suitable width as well as desired color around the graph. It, therefore, provides a palette for the user to format and beautify the graph by using various fonts, colors, sizes, highlighters and outlines. This is not only used to make graph presentable, but also, to make data analysis easier and efficient.
Deleting a Graph
A graph created may not be of required use or not produce desired analysis, as required, by the user. Thus, in order to delete a graph, following steps need to be performed:
- Right Click on graph generated.
- Click on Delete option.
The graph would be deleted.
Clicking on graph inserted and pressing Delete key on keyboard would also serve the purpose.
Challenges while Making Graphs in Excel
While inserting, editing and formatting a graph are fairly simple and straightforward operations, there maybe certain glitches or obstacles that a user may encounter while making graphs. For ex: While addling in several types of data values associated with multiple parameters. Here are some of the challenges that you may face while making graphs in Excel:
- Data sorting maybe a problem when dealing with various values containing different data types and intricately associated with other parameters. While it may make a chart appealing and desirable, it may mess up the flow of graph and can make data analysis difficult.
- Duplicate values removal is an essential step that a user often forgets, but is essential to make graphs non-redundant and effective for data analysis. This is especially the case when data is imported from different spreadsheet. Thus, when working with large volumes of data, it is best to use the Remove Duplicates option on your rows under Data Tools, available in Data Tab on Menu Bar.
Advantages of Graphs in Excel
- Effective way of representing data in a pictorial and comprehensive manner.
- Makes the process of visualization of data easier.
- Facilitates Data Analysis.
- Used to draw various conclusions and form the basis of statistical development.