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Jan's Working with Presentations

   Advanced: Tables & Charts

Many reports and discussions need to refer to tables of information or charts. You will need to think carefully about how or whether to include these in your presentation.

Problems with Tables and Charts

Problem: Too much information all at once means that none of it is absorbed by the audience.

Example Table: Default style and layout - from Template; equal size rows and columns. You must choose the number of rows and columns.Problem: Tables of data do not show up very well on slides. You cannot get very many cells on the slide without making them too small to read easily.

Problem: Complex charts are hard to read on the screen. Text and bars or lines are often quite small.

Example: Chart with too much data Example: Line chart

Possible Solutions:

  • Chart - Default dataSimplify: Show only the most important data.
  • Divide data: Use several simple tables or charts on separate slides instead putting all in one table or chart.
  • Reveal in parts - Table: Create a separate table for each row or column and arrange them on the slide to look like one table.  Use animation to reveal them one at a time.
  • Reveal in parts - Chart: Use an animation to reveal each series or each category in turn instead of all at once, using Effects Options for the animation. 
  • Example: Notes Page with chart in the notesUse Notes Pages: Put the complete table or chart in a Notes Page handout and put just a summary or highlights on the slide. 

Import Data

Problem: Lots of data means lots of typing to create a table or chart!

Solutions (when data is already in another document):

  • Copy and Paste:
    Data must already be in a table or chart in another program, like Word or Excel.


    • It's easy to do.
  • Disadvantages:

    • Can be edited only in PowerPoint, with PowerPoint's tools
    • Will not show any changes you make to the original later.  Is that important?
  • Import a file as an object:
    Insert ribbon tab > Object > From File > Browse to select


    • Can edit with original program.
    • If linked, the slide can update to show recent changes.
    • Spreadsheet: If the original has several sheets, you can pick which one shows on the slide. The rest is still there if you change your mind!


    • Broken links: PowerPoint must be able to find the original file when you update. If you moved the presentation to a different computer or moved the data file to a new location, the update will fail.
    • Presentation size gets larger when inserting multiple worksheets instead of just a data table or chart.