Formatting Chart Elements

Any element of a chart that you can insert, you can also format.

In some cases, as mentioned earlier, you can format a chart element directly. For example, you can select text in a title and apply font formatting to it. You can also move elements, such as your chart's legend or plot area, by dragging them with the mouse.

However, in most cases you'll work with dialog boxes to access the formatting controls you need. To format a chart element, double-click on it; or right-click on it and choose the format command that appears at the top of the shortcut menu.

For example, if you right-click on your chart's title, the Format Chart Title command appears, and if you select it, the Format Chart Title dialog box appears?which contains tabs for formatting the Patterns, Font, and Alignment of text in the title (see Figure 15.15).

Figure 15.15. The Format Chart Title dialog box is an example of the dialog boxes available for formatting individual chart elements.


If you're having trouble precisely positioning the mouse pointer on the chart element you want to click, you can select it from the Chart Objects drop-down box on the Standard toolbar (see Figure 15.16).

Figure 15.16. Selecting a chart element from the Chart Objects drop-down box.


Table 15.1 lists the chart elements that can be formatted and the formatting categories available to you through that chart element's Format dialog box.

Table 15.1. Chart Elements and Available Formatting

Chart Element

Available Formatting


Patterns, Scale, Font, Number, Alignment

Chart Area

Patterns, Font

Chart Title

Patterns, Font, Alignment

Data Labels

Patterns, Font, Number, Alignment

Data Points

Patterns, Data Labels, Options

Data Series

Patterns, Axis, Y Error Bars, Data Labels, Options (varies with chart type)

Data Table

Patterns, Font

Error Bars

Patterns, Y Error Bars




Patterns, Scale


Patterns, Font, Placement

Legend Entry


Plot Area



Patterns, Type, Options



Working with Patterns

Chapter 14, "Using Word's Quick and Easy Drawing Tools," shows you how to use Word's backgrounds and fill effects in your document. Many of these features are available in Graph as well. For example, as listed in Table 15.1, nearly all the elements in a Microsoft Graph chart contain patterns. You can adjust these patterns using the same color and fill effects available to drawing objects in Word.

For more information on working with fill effects, see "Adding Fill Effects to Your Shapes," p. 499, and "Controlling Colors," p. 497.

In addition to colors, you can give your charts textures, patterns, and gradient fills; you can even fill an element with a picture of your own choosing. To give a chart element a different fill color or effect, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click on the chart object you want to format, and choose the Format option on the shortcut menu. The appropriate Format dialog box opens.

  2. If necessary, click the Patterns tab.

  3. To choose a standard color, click one of the color swatches in the Color section. For additional color options, click the More Colors button.

  4. To choose one of the enhanced effects (gradients, textures, patterns, or picture), click Fill Effects. Choose the appropriate tab and fill effect.

  5. Click OK.

Figure 15.17 shows a chart with a Chart Area formatted with a gradient that is dark at the bottom and light at the top.

Figure 15.17. Adding textures and fill effects to a chart is an easy way to make it look more interesting.


Often, when you start adding textures such as these to the background, you have to adjust text fonts and other elements as well. In this example, the chart title is formatted in dark type to be visible against the lightest part of the gradient, whereas the legend and axes are formatted with a white background to make them easier to read against the darker areas of the gradient.


Be aware that many of the color schemes Microsoft Graph proposes may not reproduce with sufficient contrast on a black-and-white printer. Even some black-and-white gradients can be difficult to read, depending on the quality and resolution of your printer.


You can select an individual element of a data series and reformat it for emphasis, without changing the other elements. To do so, double-click on the data point. The Format Data Point dialog box opens, containing formatting controls that affect no other data point except the one you selected.

Adding Callouts with Graph's Drawing Tools

As discussed in Chapter 14, callouts can be used to call attention to specific text or graphics in your document. You can also use callouts to comment on charts you produce in Graph, as shown in Figure 15.18. The tools and the techniques are the same. As in Word, Graph's callout feature can be found on a special Drawing toolbar (use the steps in the following text to view this toolbar).

Figure 15.18. Callouts enable you to emphasize and comment on your Graph chart.


To place a callout in your Graph chart, follow these instructions:

  1. graphics/drawing_icon.gif

    Click the Drawing button on the Standard toolbar (or choose View, Toolbars, Drawing).

  2. graphics/autoshape.gif Click the AutoShapes button on the Drawing toolbar.

  3. Select Callouts and then choose a callout to insert. The pointer changes into a small crosshair.

  4. Click the object you want called out first, and then, holding down the mouse button, drag to the location you want your callout's text to appear. Release the mouse button. An insertion pointer appears in the callout box.

  5. Input your text and apply any formatting desired.

  6. If necessary, resize the callout box by clicking and dragging any of the sizing handles.

  7. If you want, you can adjust the placement of the leader?the line that connects the text box to the location in the chart you're pointing to. To do so, click the yellow diamond adjustment handle on one end of the leader, and then drag the line until it appears as you want it to.

  8. Click anywhere outside the callout box to return to the chart.

For more information about working with callouts, see "Using Callouts," p. 494.


You can also use Graph's other drawing tools to add text boxes, arrows, and any other shape that might clarify your chart's contents.

    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