How to Perfect Excel Charts in Office 2011 for Mac

One of the more subtle things to master with charts in Excel for Mac 2011 is training yourself to be aware of what is selected at any given moment. The Ribbon can help you with this. When you click anywhere on a chart, the Office 2011 for Mac Ribbon displays three tabs from which to choose:

  • Charts: This is where you start with your chart. This Ribbon tab has chart types, quick layouts, chart styles, sparklines, and data source controls.

  • Chart Layout: This Ribbon tab is where you fine-tune chart customization. Here you find a selection indicator and chooser, selection formatting options, analysis options, label options, and 3-D rotation options.

  • Format: More fine-tuning using the selection indicator and chooser, chart element styles, text styles, arrangement, and size tools.

Selecting chart elements in Excel 2011 for Mac

To select a chart element, you can either click the element or click the Current Selection pop-up menu found within the Chart Layout tab of the Ribbon. All the formatting options adjust automatically to activate only those options that are applicable to whatever is selected.

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When you select a chart series within a chart, the corresponding data series and data labels are selected in your data range. Selection indicators display on the chart series elements in the chart.

Deleting an Excel chart series

A chart series represents the data found within a row or column To delete a chart series, select it and then press the Delete key. The corresponding row or column in the data source is not deleted.

Formatting chart elements in Excel 2011 for Mac

You have your choice of using the formatting tools on the three Ribbon tabs, or you can display a dialog by clicking the Format Selection button. The formatting options work the same in charts as for other objects. You have countless formatting options from which to choose.

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Labeling your Excel for Mac chart

The Labels group on the Chart Layout tab of the Ribbon is where you can find the controls for the labels and title in your chart. Each button lets you choose from a pop-up menu of position and formatting options. You can choose whether or not to have a label on your chart at all; you can choose No Chart Title, for example. The final option in each menu displays a dialog with precision control over the chart element being formatted.

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Formatting chart axes

The axes on your chart can be formatted, adjusted for scale, and turned on and off. To do so, click the Axes button in the Axes group of the Chart Layout tab of the Ribbon. You can set the unit of measurement and switch from scalar (the default) to log scale using the Axes button.

The Gridlines button lets you turn horizontal and vertical gridlines on and off independently. The final option in each button's drop-down menu displays a dialog with precision control over the axis being formatted.

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