If you’ve never attempted to add a chart to a PowerPoint slide, the process can be a little confusing. A chart is simply a series of numbers rendered as a graph. You can supply the numbers yourself, or you can copy them from a separate file, such as an Excel spreadsheet.
You can create all kinds of different charts, ranging from simple bar charts and pie charts to exotic doughnut charts and radar charts. Very cool, but a little confusing to the uninitiated.
The following list details some of the jargon that you have to contend with when you’re working with charts:
Graph or chart: Same thing. These terms are used interchangeably. A graph or chart is nothing more than a bunch of numbers turned into a picture. After all, a picture is worth a thousand numbers.
Chart type: PowerPoint supports several chart types: bar charts, column charts, pie charts, line charts, scatter charts, area charts, radar charts, Dunkin’ Donut charts, and others. You can even create cone charts that look like something that fell off a Fembot in an Austin Powers movie. Different types of charts are better suited to displaying different types of data.
Chart Layout: A predefined combination of chart elements, such as headings and legends, that lets you easily create a common type of chart.
Chart Style: A predefined combination of formatting elements that controls the visual appearance of a chart.
Datasheet: Supplies the underlying data for a chart. After all, a chart is nothing more than a bunch of numbers made into a picture. Those numbers come from the datasheet, which is actually an Excel spreadsheet. When you create a chart, PowerPoint automatically starts Excel (if it isn’t already running) and uses Excel to hold the numbers in the datasheet.
Series: A collection of related numbers. For example, a chart of quarterly sales by region might have a series for each region. Each series has four sales totals, one for each quarter. Each series is usually represented by a row on the datasheet, but you can change the datasheet so that each column represents a series.
Most chart types can plot more than one series. Pie charts can plot only one series at a time, however. The name of each series can be displayed in a legend.
Axes: The lines on the edges of a chart. The X-axis is the line along the bottom of the chart; the Y-axis is the line along the left edge of the chart. The X-axis usually indicates categories. Actual data values are plotted along the Y-axis. Microsoft Graph automatically provides labels for the X- and Y-axes, but you can change them.
Legend: A box used to identify the various series plotted on the chart. PowerPoint can create a legend automatically if you want one.
The most interesting thing to know about charting in PowerPoint 2013 is that it is closely integrated with Excel 2013. When you insert a chart in PowerPoint, Excel is automatically started, and the data that you chart is placed in an Excel workbook. However, that Excel workbook isn’t stored as a separate document. Instead, the chart and the datasheet workbook are stored within the PowerPoint document.