Create Eye-Catching Charts in PowerPoint 2007

By Helen Bradley
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A well-drawn chart turns columns of numbers into something that can be more easily read and understood. Using charts in a PowerPoint presentation makes it easier for your audience to draw inferences from your data, which can help them to better understand the concepts you are presenting. PowerPoint 2007 has several new tools for working with charts that can help you create professional, eye-catching charts for any presentation.

You have two options when placing a chart in PowerPoint presentation. One is to bring data in from another source such as an Excel worksheet and the other is to create the data inside PowerPoint itself.

» Copying a Chart from Excel

To bring data in from an external Excel worksheet, open the Excel worksheet with the chart visible on the screen. Click the chart to select it, and from the Home tab choose Copy and switch to PowerPoint. Add a new slide, right click in the placeholder on the slide and choose Paste. This pastes the chart inside the placeholder as a linked chart — note that it will alter if the data in the original workbook changes.

You can access the original data by clicking on the chart inside PowerPoint to select it and from the Chart Tools > Design tab, select Edit Data. When you do this, Excel opens with the worksheet in place on the screen. Change the data and save the worksheet and the corresponding chart in your PowerPoint presentation will change accordingly. If the data does not change, from inside PowerPoint click the chart and choose Chart Tools > Design tab > Refresh Data.

When you paste a copied chart, the formatting of the chart will be determined by the theme and colors you have configured in PowerPoint for your slide.

» Create Data in PowerPoint

Your other option for placing a chart on a PowerPoint slide is to add the chart to the slide by creating it from inside PowerPoint. To do this, add a new slide and choose a layout that has place for a chart on it — Content with Caption is one of these. Inside the content area is an Insert Chart button — click this to insert a chart into the slide.

From the Insert Chart dialog, select the type of chart to add and click on a chart type to use. When selecting a chart type, those on the left of the dialog are the simplest styles and typically the easiest to understand. Avoid complex charts like 100% stacked charts unless your audience is knowledgeable enough to understand these. Click OK.

Microsoft Excel 2007 now opens with some sample data already in place in the worksheet. Replace this data with the data that you want to plot in the chart. Once you have entered your data, adjust the blue border to surround all the data. Add more columns and rows if desired or remove columns and rows if you have less data.

When you're done, click the Close button to close the Excel window and return to PowerPoint. The Chart Tools tab on the Ribbon includes Design, Layout, and Format tabs, which provide formatting and other options for your chart.

On the Design tab is the Chart Styles Gallery from which you can select a style for your chart. The options available and the overall look of the chart will vary according to the Style you choose, the Theme you're using, and options such as Effects you have applied.

If you go now and change the Theme or the Colors and then return to the Chart Tools > Design tab you will notice that the styles will have changed too. From the Chart Layouts dropdown list on the Design tab, you can view different possible layouts for your chart — selecting Layout 5 for a column chart, for example, adds a data table to the chart.

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This article was originally published on November 26, 2008
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