Creating Data to Be Graphed

If you create business documents with Word, you're likely to encounter many places where charts can help you communicate more effectively: summaries of results and projections, coverage of trends, changes in the value of assets and investments, and so on. In this chapter, you'll learn several ways to provide the source data for a chart. In many cases, the easiest is to first enter your data in a Word table, as shown in Figure 15.1.

Figure 15.1. Creating data for charting.


For more information on working with charts, see Chapter 12, "Structuring and Organizing Information with Tables," p. 387.

To create a chart from a table, first select the information in your table that you want to chart. To get a chart that says what you want to say, you must select the correct information from your data source. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Include at least one header row or column in your selection.

  • If your table includes a cell, row, or column that contains totals, you might not want to select those totals, unless they measure an average rather than a quantity. Otherwise, including totals can skew the scale of your graph, making all the other data points look small in relation to the data point or points that contain the total. If you're creating a pie chart, exactly half the pie will contain your total. This is probably not the result you had in mind.

  • Select only the data and headings you need. In particular, avoid selecting the table's overall title. If your first selected row or column does not have heading information, Graph might not read your selection properly, and the result will be a generic chart with dummy data.

After you've selected the data you want charted, choose Insert, Picture, Chart. Word then enters Microsoft Graph mode and inserts a 3D column chart based on your data, below your table, in a floating frame?as shown in Figure 15.2.

Figure 15.2. Graph can quickly convert your table data into a movable, resizable chart.


As you can see, in addition to the framed chart, Graph toolbars and menus temporarily replace Word 2003 toolbars and menus, and a datasheet window opens with an Excel-like view of the chart's data.


From now on, the values this chart is based on will be the values displayed in the datasheet. To change the chart's contents, change the values in the datasheet.

Changing the values in the source Word table will not change the values in the chart.

For more information on interacting with datasheets, see "Creating a Chart from Scratch," p. 531.

When Word inserts a chart based on your information, it selects the chart. As long as the chart or any part of it is selected, you are working in Microsoft Graph. (Clicking outside the chart returns you to Word's normal menus, toolbars, and commands. You then must double-click on the chart to return to Microsoft Graph.)

To get more comfortable with chart editing, take a quick look at the menus on Microsoft Graph's menu bar and the buttons on your Standard and Formatting toolbars. These now reflect Microsoft Graph's commands rather than Word's (refer to Figure 15.2). Using these toolbars and menu commands, you can

  • Format the chart or elements of it

  • Change the data that the chart graphs

  • Add or change elements of the chart, such as data points, legends, or data labels

  • Add a background pattern, shading, or a picture to the chart?or to individual chart elements or to the chart's background


The first time you run Graph, it displays a one-line toolbar combining the most commonly used toolbar buttons from its Standard and Formatting toolbars. Most users want to display both complete toolbars to get access to all the menu commands. This chapter refers to buttons on the full toolbars whenever they provide the fastest way to get the job done.

To view the full toolbars, click on the toolbar handle at the left of the Formatting toolbar and drag it under the Standard toolbar.

Many of these toolbar buttons should be familiar to you because they are the same as buttons on the Standard and Formatting toolbars in Word. A few of the toolbar buttons shown in Figure 15.2 will be especially handy later, when you start formatting and editing elements of your chart. For example, the Chart Objects drop-down list box enables you to select a specific chart element so that you can format or edit that element. You'll find it especially helpful when you need to select a chart element that's difficult to click on, such as a thin gridline.

The Import File button enables you to open a Microsoft Excel or other file and add information from that file to the chart you already have open. The Chart Type button gives you a quick way to switch among the most popular types of charts.

And, on the Formatting toolbar, the Currency Style, Percent Style, Increase Decimal, and Decrease Decimal buttons give you a quick way to make sure that your axes and other chart elements display numbers formatted as you like.

For more about formatting data in datasheets, see "Formatting Data in the Datasheet," p. 534.


If you use Undo, be aware that Graph's Undo button enables you to undo only your last action?not any of the last 100 or more actions, as in Word.

    Part I: Word Basics: Get Productive Fast
    Part II: Building Slicker Documents Faster
    Part III: The Visual Word: Making Documents Look Great
    Part IV: Industrial-Strength Document Production Techniques
    Part VI: The Corporate Word