A computer screen with Excel open showing data and charts.

Improve the Looks of Default Area Charts in Microsoft Excel

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Image: 200degrees/Adobe Stock

Area charts do an ideal job of exposing traits in Microsoft Excel knowledge. The excellent news is that they’re straightforward to create; the unhealthy information is that the default chart is usually unsuitable for distribution due to the formatting. The chart is ugly as a result of Excel applies totally different colours to every space, and so they don’t look good collectively. Fortunately, it takes only some minutes to tweak the default formatting, and the outcomes are greater than appropriate.

In this tutorial, I’ll present you a couple of tweaks that may shortly enhance the appears of Excel’s default space chart. Although we’re working with an space chart, you’ll be able to apply these easy format adjustments to most chart varieties.

SEE: Google Workspace vs. Microsoft 365: A side-by-side evaluation w/guidelines (TechRepublic Premium)

I’m utilizing Microsoft 365 Desktop on a Windows 10 64-bit system, however you should utilize earlier variations of Excel. Excel for the net helps charts.

You can obtain the Microsoft Excel demo file for this tutorial.

How to create an space chart in Excel

An space chart represents numeric knowledge, often over time. Visually, it’s a mixture of a bar and line chart. Another technique to describe an space chart is a line chart with the world under shaded to the baseline. You can use an space chart to plot a single line and shaded space, however most space charts plot a number of traces (knowledge sequence) so you’ll be able to break down the development between teams in comparison with the entire.

Figure A shows a easy sheet of gross sales knowledge over twelve months for 5 areas.

Figure A

This simple sheet stores sales figures for five regions.
This easy sheet shops gross sales figures for 5 areas.

To create an space chart primarily based on this knowledge, do the next:

1. Click anyplace inside the info.

2. Click the Insert menu.

3. Click the Insert Line or Area Chart choice within the Charts group. It’s the primary choice on the second line.

4. In the ensuing dialog, select the Stacked Area chart (Figure B).

Figure B

Select the Stacked Area chart.
Select the Stacked Area chart.

Even although the chart isn’t pleasing to the attention, you’ll be able to discern a couple of attention-grabbing traits. Specifically, the entire areas appear to share widespread dips in gross sales throughout May and November. This is definitely price nearer. Furthermore, all of the areas see a big enhance in December.

Unfortunately, the chart is slightly ugly (Figure C). Many customers won’t notice how straightforward it’s to shortly flip this chart into an expert and readable chart with little effort.

Figure C

The default chart is ugly.
The default chart is ugly.

How to use a extra skilled selection of colours in Excel

The very first thing you would possibly need to repair is the combination of colours. Understandably, every area has its personal colour, however they don’t need to be such ugly colours. It’s not that every colour is ugly by itself: It’s the mix of the colours that’s unpleasant. The answer is to use shades of the identical colour. Let’s go along with blue.

To change the colour of a sequence, do the next:

1. Click the underside sequence, the one for the Southeast area. Doing so will choose solely that area (Figure D). You can work from the highest down in the event you want. As you choose an space, Excel will choose the corresponding row within the desk.

Figure D

Select one area.
Select one space.

2. Right-click the chosen area to show the menu toolbar just under the submenu.

3. Click Fill after which select the darkest blue within the blue column. If you select a colour apart from blue, work with the shades in that column.

As you’ll be able to see in Figure E, the underside sequence is now a darkish blue. The darkest blue nearly appears black subsequent to the orange.

Figure E

Change the colors, one series at a time.
Change the colours, one sequence at a time.

I like to recommend that you just work with shades in the identical column and apply the darkest of the shades on the underside and select lighter shades as you progress up.

Repeat the steps above, deciding on one area and making use of a shade within the blue column. Figure F exhibits my outcomes. I feel most will agree that this chart appears higher already, and it took a few minute to vary the colours for every area. Excel even updates the legend on the backside of the chart, accordingly.

Figure F

Apply shades of the same color.
Apply shades of the identical colour.

How to vary the chart title in Excel

The chart title on the high middle wants a descriptive title. Click it, choose the default title and exchange it with 2021 Monthly Sales (Figure G).

Figure G

Enter a meaningful title.
Enter a significant title.

If the chart is crowded, delete the Chart Title textual content field and enter the title above the chart after which middle it between the chart’s left and proper margins (Figure H).

Figure H

Put the title above the chart.
Put the title above the chart.

To accomplish this, do the next:

1. Move the chart all the way down to make room for the title. You gained’t all the time want to do that.

2. Enter the title, 2021 Monthly Sales, in B11, or the cell on the left border simply above the chart.

3. Select all of the cells from the left to proper border of the chart. In this case, that’s B11:N11.

4. Click Merge and Center.

5. The one disadvantage is that you could bear in mind to maneuver the title in the event you transfer the chart.

If you go this route, delete the chart title from the highest of the chart.

How so as to add a separating line between the highest space and the plot background in Excel

As is, the colour of the highest space is so gentle that it fades into the plot space, which is white. You can simply repair this by including a darkish border to solely the highest area as follows:

1. Right-click the highest space and select Format Data Series.

2. In the Format Data Series pane, click on the Fill icon.

3. At the underside of the pane, broaden the Border choices.

4. Click Solid Line.

5. From the Color dropdown, select a darkish blue (Figure I).

Figure I

Add a border to the top area.
Add a border to the highest space.

As you’ll be able to see, you’ve added a delicate border to the complete space, and never solely the highest border, however with the colours in use, it appears positive.

How to match codecs for each titles

If you need to show the info desk with the chart, you may want the chart title and the desk heading row to look the identical. This is extraordinarily straightforward utilizing Excel’s Format Painter.

First, click on any row contained in the desk header. Then, click on Format Painter within the Clipboard group on the Home tab. Next, choose E11:N11 and Excel applies the formatting from the header to the chart’s title row (Figure J). Once you do, you’ll have to middle the chart title once more.

Figure J

Match formatting for the table’s header and the chart’s title.
Match formatting for the desk’s header and the chart’s title.

Excel gave us an unsightly chart and, inside a couple of minutes, we modified a couple of settings and turned the ugly duckling into a phenomenal swan.



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() Image: 200degrees/Adobe Stock Area charts do an ideal job of exposing traits in Microsoft Excel knowledge. The excellent news is that they’re straightforward to create; the unhealthy information is that the default chart is usually unsuitable for distribution due to the formatting. The chart is ugly as a result of Excel applies totally different…