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Excel 2010: The Missing Manual by Matthew MacDonald

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Adding Chart Elements

You build every chart 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.

This worksheet shows two copies of the same chart, each with a different layout. The chart at the top includes heavy gridlines, axis titles, and a legend on the right. The chart below has a chart title and places the legend at the top. It also has no gridlines and instead displays the series value above each column.

Figure 18-2. This worksheet shows two copies of the same chart, each with a different layout. The chart at the top includes heavy gridlines, axis titles, and a legend on the right. The chart below has a chart title and places the legend at the top. It also has no gridlines and instead displays the series value above each column.

Figure 18-3 shows the different elements that make up a chart. They include:

  • Title. The title labels the whole chart. In addition, you can add titles to the axes. If you do, then you can select these titles separately.

  • Legend. The legend identifies each data series on the chart with a different color. A legend's useful only when the chart contains more than one series.

  • Horizontal and Vertical Axes. An axis runs along each edge of the chart and determines the scale. In a typical two-dimensional chart, you have two axes: the category axis (typically on the bottom of the chart, running horizontally), and the value axis (typically on the left, running vertically).

  • Plot Area ...

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