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Excel 2010: The Missing Manual by Matthew MacDonald

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Selecting Chart Elements

Some chart elements, like titles and axes, are obvious. Others are a little more subtle. But it's important to realize that everything you add to a chart is its own distinct ingredient, and you can tweak each ingredient independently—even the data labels that identify important values (Adding Individual Data Labels). That means you can select them, move them, delete them, and so on. Understanding this principle is the secret to creating charts that stand out from the crowd.

So far, you've covered how to add the most popular elements to your chart, using either a readymade layout or the lists in the Chart Tools | Layout tab. But you haven't learned about everything you can do with a chart element once you've created it. In this section (and those that follow), you'll learn how to grab hold of the element you want and further fine-tune it.

If you want to manipulate your chart components, you have to first learn how to select them. The easiest way to do so is to click directly on the element you want to change, as shown in Figure 18-11.

When you select a part of a chart, a rectangle appears around the item, with a circle (known as a handle) in each corner. In this example, the chart title is selected.

Figure 18-11. When you select a part of a chart, a rectangle appears around the item, with a circle (known as a handle) in each corner. In this example, the chart title is selected.

Some elements—like titles and legends—are easy to select this way. Others, like gridlines and axes, are a little trickier because you need to click in ...

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