Charts are a great way to visually present complex data. However, the default chart is never, I repeat, never acceptable. You need to format the chart. Here are some simple steps you can take to format a bar chart:
- Double-click the chart so you can edit it.
- Click one series of bars once to select the series. (All the bars in a series have the same color.)
- Right-click and choose Format Data Series. The Format Data Series dialog box opens.
- On the Patterns tab, click Fill Effects. Then choose a gradient or a picture to fill in the bars. The Diagonal Up gradient style is often effective.
- On the Shape tab, you can choose a shape other than simple bars. However, make sure the chart is still easily legible.
- On the Options tab, adjust the gap depth, gap width and chart depth. These little known adjustments can make a big difference in the clarity of your chart. They affect the spacing between the sets of bars and the depth of a 3D chart. Gap width also affects the width of the individual bars (a smaller gap means more room for bars). As you change the numbers the preview shows the results.
- Click OK when you’re done.
Thanks to Claudyne Wilder (http://www.wilderpresentations.com/) for some of these ideas.