Advanced PowerPoint:

Title: Jan's Illustrated Computer Literacy 101

Did you want: Working with Presentations: PowerPoint 2007,2010,2013,2016 or español

A picture is worth a thousand words, or so the Chinese proverb says. Turning numbers into a chart can help your audience understand what the numbers mean.

What is a chart?

Example: Chart typesA chart is a way to represent numbers graphically, that is, as a picture. There are many different types of charts.

The two most commonly used types are Column and Pie charts.

Example: default chartColumn Chart: Most common choice. Good for showing a pattern of change in the values over time or to compare sets of values.

Example: pie chartPie Chart: Shows numbers as parts of a whole.

Where you are:
JegsWorks > Lessons > Presentations

Before you start...

Project 1: PowerPoint BasicsTo subtopics

Project 2: PowerPoint FormattingTo subtopics

Project 3: Advanced PowerPoint
    OutlineTo subtopics
    ImagesTo subtopics
    Tables & Charts Arrow to Subtopics
    Icon: Step-by-StepTable
    Icon: Step-by-StepChart
    Icon: Step-by-StepImport Data
    Icon: Step-by-StepAnimate Data
    FinishingTo subtopics
    ExercisesTo subtopics


To Create a Chart

  1. Default chart with datasheetButton: Chart Chart button
    Icons in placeholder created by slide layout Slide layout icon
    Clicking the Chart button or icon opens a default table called a datasheet and a 3-D chart based on the datasheet. It's a bit confusing to see data already in the datasheet!

    TipYou are actually working in a supplementary program named Microsoft Graph when you are creating a chart from scratch. The menus and toolbars change while Microsoft Graph is open.

    WarningUndo for Last Step Only: While in Microsoft Graph, Undo will work only for the previous single action. There is no list of actions to undo!

    You must remove the default data and enter your own data in the datasheet. This looks a lot like Microsoft Excel.

    Once you have your own data entered, you can change the chart type and change the formatting, too.

    Unhappily, unlike in Excel, you cannot select data in an existing PowerPoint table and use it to create a chart automatically. You can use the Paste data method below.

  2. Paste data: Copy data from an existing table or spreadsheet. Insert a chart. Paste into the datasheet.

  3. Import data: PowerPoint can import existing data from Excel or Word or Lotus 1-2-3 or a text data file. You must Insert a chart first and then select from the menu  Edit  | Import file...  and navigate to the file that has your data. You may need to pick the correct sheet in a spreadsheet.

TipAfter your have imported or pasted your data, delete any rows or columns that were used by the default data which you are not using. Otherwise, they will show up in the chart, even if blank.

TipWhen you import data, the menus and toolbars may change to match the original program.

Icon Step-by-Step 

Step-by-Step:Create a Chart

 Icon Step-by-Step

What you will learn:

to add a chart
to enter data in datasheet
to choose a chart type
to format a chart

Start with: Icon: Class disk,  nz-table.ppt

The Story So Far:
You are creating a presentation on New Zealand for World Travel Inc. to show customers.
You will create a chart of the number of rainy days in each season for the same places in New Zealand that you used for the table of temperatures.

Insert Chart

  1. Slide Layout: Title-ChartAdd a new slide after the Temperatures slide.
  2.  Type  Rain Days  as the title.
  3. Apply the Title-Chart layout  Layout: Title-Chart from the Slide Layout task pane.

  4. Default chart datasheetDouble-click the icon on the slide. The default chart and datasheet appear with the default data.

Enter Data

You must replace the default data with your own. The chart will change automatically to match.

  1. Enter the data from the table below into your datasheet. The numbers are the number of days with rain in the season. You do not need to worry about the cell size in the data table.
    Printable copy of data table

    Alternate to typing it all: Copy the table below and paste it into Word or Excel.  Copy the whole table from Word or Excel and paste into your datasheet. You cannot copy the table directly from this web page and paste into your datasheet because each row will paste into 1 cell!

    Places Spring Summer Fall Winter
    Bay of Islands 11 7 11 16
    Auckland 12 8 11 15
    Rotorua 11 9 9 13
    Wellington 11 7 10 13
    Christchurch 7 7 7 7
    Queenstown 9 8 8 7

    New data entered into datasheet

  2. Chart inserted onto slideClick on the slide to close the Microsoft Graph interface. The chart is showing on the slide.
    You can make some formatting and layout changes that will make this chart easier to read and more attractive.

  3. Icon: Class diskSave As to your Class disk as  nz-chart.ppt .
    Full floppy disk How to handle a full Class disk

Format Chart

You actually have a lot of control over how your chart looks. You can change the fonts, color, background, and layout.

You will fix the following problems:

  • Missing some seasons from the X-axis.
  • Color for Bay of Islands data is same as the background.
  • The colors of the chart bars are not attractive.
  • The legend is taking too much space.

Unfortunately, your chart text may look more jagged than expected. Anti-aliasing does not work as well for charts in PowerPoint. If you use PowerPoint Viewer to run you show on a computer that does not have PowerPoint installed, all the fonts will be more jagged.

WarningRemember: While in Microsoft Graph, Undo will work only for the previous action. There is no list of actions!

  1. Double-click the chart to open it in Microsoft Graph again.
    Alternate method: Right click and choose Chart Object | Edit.
  2. X- and Y-Axes:
    The default font is Arial Black. The characters are too large for all of the season names to fit on the X-axis. The numbers on the Y-axis are hard to read. The strokes are too thick.
    1. Right click menu: Format AxisRight click on the X-axis labels (Spring, Fall).
    2. From the popup menu select  Format Axis...   The Format Axis dialog appears with several tabs.
    3. Dialog: Format AxisOn the Font tab, change the Font to Arial.

    4. Dialog: Format Axis | Alignment - 45On the Alignment tab, change the Orientation to 45 by dragging the Text line up. The dot turns red when you are at exactly 45.
      If you have trouble with dragging, you can type 45 in the Degrees box.
      Now all four seasons show. Sometimes all you need to do is change the font or font size.
    5. Click on OK to accept the changes to the X-axis.
    6. Right click menu: Foramt AxisRight click on the Y-axis (the vertical numbers) and choose   Format Axis... 

    7. Chart with axes formattedChange the Font to Arial and click on OK.

  3. Bar Colors:
    The light blue color on the first series of bars looks OK on the white background, but the chart background is actually transparent. On the slide those bars are the same color as the background. Not good!
    Palette: automatic colors chosen from color scheme colors firstThe automatic colors are chosen first from the colors in the slide color scheme and then from standard colors.
    1. Right Click Menu: Format data seriesRight click on a light blue bar. All of the light blue bars are selected and show handles.
      WarningClicking twice on a bar will select just that one bar. Be careful  how many times and where you click!
    2. From the popup menu select  Format Data Series...  The Format Data Series dialog opens.

    3. Dialog: Format data series - Pattern - Light greenIf necessary, click on the Pattern tab.
    4. Click the light green color at the bottom of the upper color palette and click on OK.
      All the bars for Bay of Islands are now light green. The legend changed to match.
      TipAutomatic colors: The colors used automatically for the data bars are listed in the second palette of colors. The first row is the colors from the slide's color scheme. The order on the palette is the order in which they will be picked.
      WarningIf you change your color scheme later, only the colors that you chose from the scheme will change to match the new color scheme.
    5. Chart with bars formattedRepeat for the black bars, choosing light blue from the upper color palette.
  4. Legend:
    The legend at the left takes up way too much space and the font is too thick to read easily.
    1. Right click menu: Format LegendRight click on the legend.
    2. From the popup menu select  Format Legend... 
      The Format Legend dialog opens.
    3. On the Font tab, change the Font to Arial.
    4. Dialog: Format Legend - topOn the Placement tab, select Top.
    5. Click on OK to close the dialog.
      The legend moves to run across the top of the chart and the chart expands horizontally.

    Chart with legend formatted

Add Text Box

Perhaps it is clear to you that the numbers on the Y-axis are a number of days. Some people might think it's the number of inches of rain. To make it clear, you should add a label. Unlike Excel, Microsoft Graph does not include an option to add an axis label, so you will have to add a text box yourself.

  1. With the chart displayed in Microsoft Graph,  display the Drawing toolbar. [View | Toolbars | Drawing]
  2.  Click on Button: Text Box the Text Box button on the Drawing bar.
  3. Initial text box for labeling the daysTo the left of the Y-axis, drag to create a small vertical text box.  (Exact dimensions do not matter right now.)
  4. Type the word Days. The font size is far too small.
  5. Right click on the border of the text box.
  6. Dialog: Format Text Box | Font - size 20From the popup menu select  Format Text Box...  The Format Text Box dialog opens with several tabs.
    Icon: TroubleIf the dialog only shows a Font tab, then you clicked inside the text box instead of on the border.
  7. Font Size: On the Font tab, change the Size to 20.

  8. Dialog: Format Text Box | Alignment - bottom to topText Direction: On the Alignment tab, select the orientation for text from bottom to top.
  9. Click on OK to close the dialog.
  10. If necessary, drag the text box down to center the word Days vertically along the Y-axis.

    Slide: Rain Days

  11. Click onto the slide to close the chart and go back to the slide.


With all the editing you have done, it is likely that your title placeholder and the chart are not quite in alignment, making the slide feel unbalanced. The Drawing Bar can come to the rescue!

  1. Placeholder for chart is selectedClick on the Title placeholder to select it.
  2. Hold the SHIFT key down and click on the chart. Now both the placeholder and the chart are selected.
  3. Click on Button: Draw the Draw button on the Drawing bar.
  4. Menu: Draw | Align or Distribute | Align centerFrom the Draw menu, select  Align or Distribute  and then  Align Center .
    If your parts were not centered, a small shift occurs that aligns the legend and the placeholder better.
  5. Icon: Class diskSave to your Class disk.[nz-chart.ppt]
    Full floppy disk How to handle a full Class disk


Slide with chart finished


View the slide full screen.

Icon: QuestionHow easy is it to read? Is there too much data? Could you accomplish the same purpose with fewer data bars? Multiple charts?


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Last updated: 30 Apr 2012