Instead of using boring and hard-to read tables in your presentations, insert colorful charts with PowerPoint 2007. Charts make it easy for your audience to visualize trends and patterns — and can prevent people from getting squint-eyed or distracted.

Follow these instructions to add a chart within PowerPoint 2007:

1. Click the Insert tab of the Ribbon and then click the Chart option.

You can also insert a slide with a layout that contains a content placeholder and then click the Insert Chart icon.

Either of these options summons the Insert Chart dialog box.

2. Select the chart category you want in the left side of the dialog box.

3. Select the chart type within the selected category.

Each category has several chart variants — select the one you want. If you can't find a type that you want, choose the one that's closest to your requirement; you can make small changes later.

4. Click OK to insert a chart.

This places a dummy chart, and the datasheet with dummy data opens in Microsoft Excel. The sample chart is almost as haggard as a newborn chick, but formatting the design and data of the chart can result in a much better-looking specimen.

5. Edit the chart.

You're now in chart-editing mode; three additional Chart Tools tabs appear on the Ribbon. These tabs provide plenty of chart formatting options:

Chart Tools Design tab, lets you change the chart type, save chart templates, edit data, change the chart layout, and apply a chart style.

Chart Tools Layout tab, lets you add and edit chart and axis titles, legend, gridlines, trendlines, error bars, and other chart paraphernalia.

Chart Tools Format tab, lets you apply graphic styles to your chart, arrange and resize chart elements, and apply WordArt styles to text within the chart.

Some simple tasks that you could perform to make your chart more relevant include

• Editing the datasheet as required — the chart updates dynamically

• Formatting the fills and effects for the individual series

• Formatting the font sizes of the values and titles

• Opting to include the legend

6. After you finish editing your chart, just click anywhere outside the chart area to go back to the normal PowerPoint interface without the Chart Tools tabs.