Chart Tricks for Excel on the Mac

By Peter Weverka

Every Mac user needs a handful of Excel chart tricks to impress their friends and intimidate their enemies. Here, you discover how to make charts roll over and play dead. You also find out how to decorate a chart with a picture, display worksheet data alongside a chart, and place a trendline on a chart.

Decorating a chart with a picture

A picture looks mighty nice on the plot area of a chart — especially a column chart. If you have a picture in your computer that would serve well to decorate a chart, you are hereby encouraged to start decorating. Follow these steps to place a picture in the plot area of a chart:

  1. Select your chart.

  2. On the Format tab, open the Current Selection drop‐down list and choose Plot Area.

  3. Open the drop‐down list on the Fill button and choose Fill Effects on the drop‐down list.

    You see the Format Plot Area dialog box.

  4. Go to the Picture of Texture Tab.

  5. Click the Choose Picture button.

    The Choose a Picture dialog box opens.

  6. Locate the picture you need and select it.

    Try to select a light‐colored picture that will serve as a background.

  7. Click the Insert button.

    You return to the Format Plot area dialog box.

  8. Click the OK button.

    The picture lands in your chart. While the picture is still selected, experiment by dragging the Transparency slider on the Format tab. Changing the transparency setting moves the picture nearer to the background of the chart.

    Using a picture as the backdrop of a chart.

    Using a picture as the backdrop of a chart.

Displaying the raw data alongside the chart

Showing the worksheet data used to produce a chart is sort of like showing the cops your I.D. It proves you’re the real thing. It makes your chart more authentic. If yours is a simple pie chart or other chart that wasn’t generated with a large amount of raw data, you can display the data alongside your chart in a data table. Anyone who sees the table knows you’re not kidding or fudging the numbers.

Select your chart and use of one of these techniques.

Follow these steps to place a table with the raw data below your chart:

  1. Select the chart.

  2. Go to the Chart Layout tab.

  3. Click the Data Table button and choose a Data Table option on the drop‐down list.

To format a data table, go to the Format tab and click the table data in the chart. You see the Format Data Table dialog box, where you can fill the table with color and choose colors for the lines in the table.

Placing a trendline on a chart

Especially on column charts, a trendline can help viewers more clearly see changes in data. Viewers can see, for example, that sales are going up or down, income is rising or falling, or annual rainfall is increasing or decreasing.

A trendline helps viewers recognize changes in data.

A trendline helps viewers recognize changes in data.

Follow these steps to put a trendline on a chart:

  1. On the Chart Layout tab, open the Chart Elements drop‐down list and choose the data series that you want to highlight with a trendline.

  2. Click the Trendline button and choose a trendline option on thedrop‐down list.

    You can choose Trendline Options on the drop‐down list to open the Format Trendline dialog box and choose additional types of trendlines.

    To change the look of a trendline, right‐click it and choose Format Trendline. In the Format Trendline dialog box, choose a line color and line style.

To remove a trendline from a chart, go to the Chart Layout tab, click the Trendline button, and choose No Trendline on the drop‐down list.