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Excel 2010: The Missing Manual by Matthew MacDonald

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Practical Charting

Figure 17-1 showed you how to chart a list that contains two columns you want to graph—one with text labels and one with numeric data. But, in real life, you'll probably need to deal with many types of data that occupy many different configurations on your worksheet.

Consider all the possible variations on the simple sales chart shown in Figure 17-1. You may need to compare the sales figures but, rather than showing region-to-region comparisons, you want to show how well (or poorly) each of your firm's products sold. Or perhaps you want to chart the quarterly performance of different stores over a five-year period, or determine the relationship between sales and profitability. All these charts require a slightly different arrangement of data. In the next section, you'll get a quick introduction to all these possibilities, using just the simple column chart and line chart.

Charts with Multiple Series of Numbers

A series is the sequence of numbers that you plot on a graph. In the simple chart example (Figure 17-1), there's one series of numbers, which represents the sales figures for a company's different regions. Of course, a real chart usually adds extra layers of detail. You may want to compare the sales figures from several different years. In this case, you'd add a separate column to your worksheet data for each year. Then you'd add each column to your chart as a separate series.

It doesn't take any extra expertise to create a chart that uses multiple series—you ...

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