In this tutorial will look at the creation and customisation of a column chart. The first step is to select the data that we want to plot, taking care to include any column and row headings. Row headings will be used as the names of the chart series and will be displayed in the legend. Column headings will be used as category labels. If the selection includes two sets of column headings, Excel will automatically recognize this and create two sets of headings on the category axis for us.
The next step is to click on the Insert ribbon tab and from the Column drop-down menu choose the option that we require. The very first option is the omnipresent scattered column chart. Excel creates our chart and places it in the worksheet as an embedded chart. If we want to change it to a standalone chart, click on Move Chart in the Location section and then choose New Sheet and enter a name for the new chart sheet.
Having selected a chart, you can of course customise it to suit your requirements. To change the colour of the columns, simply click once on any column to highlight the whole series and then choose a colour from the Shape Fill drop-down menu in the Format contextual tab. As well as Shape Fill, the drop-down also offers Shape Outline and Fill Effects. The Fill Effects includes preset effects such as shadow, glow and bevel.
There are several subtypes to choose from within the column chart type. The most basic and probably the most widely used is the clustered column chart type. To change the chart type, go to the Design contextual tab and click on Change Chart Type.
In the Stacked Column type, the overall total of all series within each category takes precedence over the individual value associated with each series. The second type of stacked column is 100% Stacked Column. Here, the height of each column becomes 100% and so all columns have exactly the same height. This type of chart shifts the emphasis away from the number or quantity represented by each series to the percentage split between series.
Excel also offers 3-D versions of its three different column chart types. You will notice that these chart tpes are not strictly 3-D charts; they simply have a 3-D effect on the columns. It is the 3-D Column option which gives us an actual three-dimensional chart. Here, Excel adds depth to the chart and places the series along the z axis (the third dimension). The remaining column options are simply variations on these basic themes. For example, if we want to go for a 3-D chart, we might choose to have pyramids instead of rectangular blocks.