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Excel 2003: The Missing Manual by Matthew MacDonald

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Chapter 17. Formatting and Perfecting Charts

In the previous chapter, you learned how Excel charts work and how you can transform ordinary tables of information into graphical representations, complete with columns, bars, lines, and even bubbles. But creating the right chart is only half the battle. The next step is refining your charts so they convey their point more effectively. Often this means tweaking the chart's formatting, inserting labels, and fine-tuning the scale. But if you're really ambitious, you'll want to tackle more advanced professional charting techniques, like trendlines, overlays, and combination charts. These techniques let you turn plain-vanilla charts into polished graphics—like the ones you see in magazines, annual reports, and brochures.

In this chapter, you'll start by looking at how you can use basic formatting techniques to change the color and font of different chart components. Then you'll learn how to set a chart's scale, unleash 3-D views, and make your data stand out no matter what type of chart you use.

Formatting Chart Elements

Every chart is actually built out of small components, like titles, gridlines, axes, a legend, and the bars, points, or exotic shapes that actually represent the data. And Excel lets you manipulate each of these details separately. That means you can independently change the format of a label, the outline of bar, the number of gridlines, and the font and color of just about everything.

The first step in manipulating your

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