Deep Dive: The Parts of a Chart in PowerPoint - Line, XY, Bar & Area

About this lesson

To take complete control of your PowerPoint chart, you need to know the vocabulary of each element. This tutorial will show you every graph element and what can and can’t be altered.

Learn the concepts once and you will know all there is about four different PowerPoint Charts:

  1. Line Charts
  2. XY Charts
  3. Bar Charts
  4. Area Charts


01:30 Topic Chapter Listing
01:40 PowerPoint Versions Covered
02:09 Unhiding Chart Context-Aware Menus – Three Ways
02:38 Uncovering Chart Format Tool Pane
03:50 The PowerPoint Chart Object
04:29 The PowerPoint Plot Area
05:18 The PowerPoint Chart Title
05:31 Controlling the Borders
06:55 The PowerPoint Legend
07:37 The Data Numbers – A Baby Excel Table
09:04 The PowerPoint Data SERIES, Spacing & Width
09:40 Quick Menu Select Specific Chart Elements or Specific Data Series
10:41 Format Three (plus 1) Chart Menus
11:39 The PowerPoint Vertical Axis
13:53 The PowerPoint Horizontal Axis
14:40 The PowerPoint Gridlines and Tick Marks
15:13 The PowerPoint Mixed Charts with Two Axe
16:10 Converting to a Different Chart Type


Subject Microsoft PowerPoint

Software Compatibility


Course Completed

PDF Files There are not any files associated with this lesson.



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<Music> PowerPoint series charts are the best choices for time based or multiple dataset comparison graphs. There are numerous types, which is bar and line and area mix to several others. And while they look different, they all share the same foundation components. A well designed Series Chart not only visualizes, we can instantly analyze complex sets of relationships. Oh, look at that increased Twitter activity does not translate into increased revenues and profits. But to build charts like this, you need to know the names of each of the elements. And the great thing is that once you’ve learned the foundation, you will work across a variety of PowerPoint charts, that may look quite different. But in reality, they’re based on the same foundation, bar chart, and lines and areas and x bar graphs all use the same components. To take complete control must be able to identify each element so that you can format the object to realize your vision for clear communications. And that’s where this tutorial becomes invaluable. Hi, I’m Les from Power Up Training, where I bring decades of my corporate experience to you for free. Looking for a specific explanation of the chart, then find the matching chapters listed with matching time spot and jump to that particular topic. I’m working on the latest version of Office 365. With the updated visual interface, these techniques go back as far as Office 2013. And even farther back for both Windows and Mac OS. Before we get into the details, I need to show you how to uncover the chart formatting pane on the left side of the screen here. Let’s get me out of the way so we get down to business. While we do not see the chart format tool yet, there are three ways to make the chart management menus uncovered. The first technique is to get the context aware menus to appear. If a chart is not selected, these menus are hidden up here. But once I click on the chart object, they show up, click off and they’re gone. Click on the chart and the two menus reappear. To get the chart formatting menu to show up on the right side, I will click the Format context menu, and then the diagonal arrow next to Shape Style groupings. And then the Format Data Series pops up. Let me close it down and show the second method. This will be much faster with the mouse. And you’re going to double click on a chart element that is the title and up pops up the formatting menu. Let me close that down and demonstrate the fastest method from the keyboard. For this trick to work, you still must select the chart in advance and then hold down the Ctrl key on Windows or a Mac and hit the number one. Now, we will dive into dissecting all of the parts of the chart. But to simplify this examination, I will not use this example of a compound chart with bars and lines and the secondary y axis. Instead, we’ll work with the more traditional simple version by removing the profit line data and the secondary y axis. Don’t worry, we’ll dig into this version at the end of this tutorial. The Chart Object. the complete collection of graph elements is contained in the chart option. Click in an open spot near the chart and the collection is selected. Note that all the call out boxes were added by me and are not part of this chart. With the chart objects selected, we can move and copy or even delete. In addition, we can enhance this area by adding a solid background and color fill for the full chart area. Here, I Select the light green

The Plot Area. Let’s compare and contrast the artistic change capabilities of only formatting the plot area. This time I’m clicking on an open spot right inside the chart near the data grid lines but not on the grid lines. Take a closer look to see the eight selector small circles at the edge of the plot area around the data element. Note that the chart title and legend are outside of our selected plot area. Now I can add a light gold fill for just the plot area. Now the fill is different from our larger chart object area that we earlier did in green. Compared to this smaller inside plot area that is now gold. The chart title like before, we can select the chart title object, and just go to the fill section to color in just this rectangle. But there’s more, we can expand the border menu under fill and add a different color border solid line and make the width larger. The border choices available in all the previous filled examples that we did for the plot and chart areas. controls for the chart title are in the chart object, but they are independent from the data. To update the contents of the title, just click to select the chart title and then click a second time to see the flashing insert cursor. Now just update the title. It’s independent and not tied to any other element. See how I updated to customers interactions for July. And with the whole textbox selected, I can then use all the PowerPoint text formatting tools such as for example, color and bolding and text size. Look at this already colored slide. So there we can see all the items that have independent Color Fill and border choices. It’s not a pretty picture. But you see that we can change the color of the chart area, the plot area, the fields for the title in the legend, the axis values, the actual titles, and even the colors of the gridlines. All are under control. But hopefully you have a better style sense then this color disaster. The legend, we know we can change the fill and border. But we cannot interact and change the contents of the legend. Nor can we move the individual items around. We could change the font type and color and size. But that’s about it. The word contents are locked and we’ll soon see to change them in the data table. But for the time being the only thing that we can change is the location of where the legend is on our chart. And as we move the location, you’ll see that the chart automatically resizes

the Data. So what drives the lines or in this chart, the bar sizes and labels? It is the hidden chart data table. While I cover this in more detail in the follow up tutorial, all about creating a line chart, we can access the data by clicking on the chart to select it. And then under the context of where menus of chart design, and then the menu item called Edit Data. And up pops the data table. It looks very much like a baby Excel table, which we explore in more depth in the companion tutorial. But for the time being, let’s see how the changes here directly changes the bar chart in our presentation, I’m going to edit the text messages entry by updating it to Instagram. And after hitting the enter key. The legend below gets updated. The legend cannot be edited independently, as we did with the chart title, you must make all the changes inside this data table. And the same for this size of the bars. That is driven by the numbers in our Excel mini table. Watch both the table and the size of the orange bars. As I increase our Now Instagram interaction numbers to 9,000 for the year 2020. And then for 2021, we’re going to push it up to over 33,000. Great. Now, let’s close down the Excel mini table and move from individual data entries to the collection that I’m calling the data series. This is where we format the whole look and feel of the collected data series, not just the individual values. For the bar chart, it’s a pretty minimal set of choices, we can make the bars get closer and closer and eventually overlap or go to the other extreme to add more space between each bar. The second control has to do with the width of the bar. We can make it both fatter, or we can make them skinnier. But what if we want to select just the set of data series, such as the phone call series? Let’s uncover this hidden tree for selecting specific elements of the chart to see the listing of all the items when you click the series options drop down menu you get the complete Using as the menu shows two series options, select the top one. And once clicked, the full list of elements are at our service, we see some of the familiar friends such as the chart area, the chart title. But we also see not just the series, but this specific data collection series. First as just the phone call series, which we can select. And then once selected, we can change the feel of just that series. Watch phone calls go from a green fill, to red. And at the same time, the legend key for phone calls also changed to the same matching red automatically. Sweet. If you were paying close attention, you may have seen that we have different menu options. Let’s look a little closer. As always, we have to start by selecting the chart. And specifically let’s focus on the phone call series again. And we’ll see when all three menus offer up. The first one with the spilling paint can lets us change color fills and borders. The second one of the shapes with a Shadow Mirror on the bottom lets us change a variety of special effects, such as glow, just to highlight the one series of bars. And the third menu impacts the width and spacing of the bars as we saw earlier, know that when we do get to the axis element, there’ll be a fourth menu for positioning of labels. And with that said, let’s dive into working with the axis both vertical and horizontal. The vertical axis runs up and down, typically on the left side, and it’s also known as the y axis or the value axis. And it will typically contain the numbers or values, which in this case are the numbers of interactions with customers. To get deeper into the details, there are actually three different items. First, the values themselves, then the access title that describes the values. And the third item is the line border running up and down, which is part of the plot area. When I select the values, we now see the fourth format access menu choice, which is the next to the last menu choice. This controls the number alignment. And we’ll test it out in a few moments. But the most heavily used menu choice is the one on the far end, which contains four big categories of items to control the look of our vertical axis. Working from the bottom up, the number grouping will give us full control of the appearance of the number. Here, I’m selecting currency that was not relevant to this chart, but you immediately see the change. The next category up is labels, which controls the location and where the values are placed, or even removed completely from the chart. Next up is tick mark, which will add smaller incremented markers between the major values to show more precision. Not always that important for a PowerPoint slide. But more so if you do print out. Lastly, there’s the access options. This is a powerful feature that I will cover in our advanced tutorial, as it gives you control over where the value market start. And there are creative uses here to exaggerate the meaning of the chart data, but still be true. The default is best for most charts, as it will automatically determine the starting bottom value and the ending top value and our case you’ll go from zero to 18,000. And that captures the range of our data.

The horizontal x axis holds the category grouping. Do not get distracted that we’re showing numbers because the groupings is the type of customer interactions grouped by the year. The controls are almost identical to the vertical y axis with the same four categories. But as promised, let me show you what the alignment menu does. It will let you flip the x axis year values on their side. This be useful when you have many many many labels that are hard to squeeze in on this access. There are other advanced settings that we cover in our future tutorials. Don’t forget to subscribe to Power Up Training. Gridlines and Tick Marks. We’ve talked about the advanced technique of the tick mark. So let’s just focus on grid lines and colors. As you see, once you click on one grid line, the small round selector circles show up at both ends of all the grid lines indicating that the lines are selected, not the plot area. And Once selected, you now only have a pair of simplified formatting menus. But for the most part, you can just control that type of line, plus the width, and the color. And finally, the bonus advanced chart two vertical AXE. Yes, the plural form of axis is AXE. This mixed chart lets you overlay two different types of data on top of each other, see the red line. It represents our sales numbers over the years of 2019, 2020 and 2021. However, these currency numbers are on a different scale compared to the interactions. If we tied them to the interactions, the lines would fall to the bottom half of the chart. So instead, we will tie them to the right vertical axis. This is also called the secondary axis. See how when I clicked the line, we can now choose which axis to associate with the left is primary y axis, or the secondary y axis on the right. But we never saw this choice before. How did that happen? Well, this chart is not a simple bar chart. To change the chart type, click the chart itself and then go to the context aware menu of chart design and click Change Chart Type action icon. And now it becomes visible that this is a combo chart type. It has been a simple bar chart, we could change that here to combo and Once selected, we then can determine which data series are tied to the clustered columns, which are a bar chart or a line chart type and assign it to the secondary axis. It is that simple. Do note, we can choose a lot of different chart types assigned to the different data series, such as area, but I don’t find that an effective selection for this collection of data. And that wraps up that nine components of a Series Chart. Once you know these elements, you can take full control of the appearance of your line or column or xy chart to look for Advanced Series design tutorial, or the companion anatomy of a pie chart. Subscribe and to not miss out on tutorials like learning the differences between these types of charts and when to use each one in our masterclass. So until next time to power up! <Music>