Microsoft Excel is probably best known for creating and working with spreadsheets.

Rows and columns of numbers. Calculations. Recalculations. Sums, sub-totals and totals.

All neatly presented in one document.

But Excel offers much more than just a stream of figures on the screen. It’s also very good at showing data in a visual way.

This makes it a really useful application for reports and presentations.

Consider all the benefits

Visuals:

  • Make it easier for the audience to take in the information
  • Create more interesting and engaging presentations
  • Help people to remember what you are saying
  • Help to explain complex data
  • Add variety to reports and presentations
  • Make it easier for people to analyse the numbers
  • Help people see trends and make comparisons

Excel does all the leg work of converting numbers to visuals for you.

Pile of round wooden numbers painted black and red

Excel allows you to create many types of chart

Excel offers a good range of charts so you can present information in the most relevant way.

The types you can create within this powerhouse Microsoft Office and 365 application include:

– Column Chart

– Pie Chart

– Line Chart

– Bar Chart

– Area Chart

– Scatter Chart (XY)

– Bubble Chart

– Stock Chart

– Combo Chart

– Radar Chart

– Doughnut Chart

– Surface Chart

Within chart types there may also be sub-types, expanding the range of options for presenting data in a clear, visual way.

Hitting the Charts

Column charts are usually used to compare data across a range of values.

For example, a company could show the revenue across its regional divisions for the financial year, or a financial quarter in the year, in a basic single-column chart.

It could also display the regional figures across a series of financial years. In this case, the data would be represented in a clustered column chart. Columns for each year (or quarter) would stand side by side for easy comparison.

The visual provides an instant understanding of what is happening with sales and revenue trends.

Another way to display regional sales performance over the years is with a stacked column chart. In this case, each column would show the total revenue and the proportion made by each region.

A variation in presenting column charts is to use a 3-D version. With this layout, the chart shows columns not as rectangles but as tall, thin boxes (two sides shaded to give a 3-D effect).

You could use this, for a different example, to show sales of houses, apartments and bungalows in a specific year, or across a range of years. Each category would have a different colour for its respective column.

Getting Trendy

If you are wanting to portray trends, one of the most common ways to do that is with a line chart. The information could relate to anything from monthly sales over a period of time to annual rainfall, temperature and sunshine levels.

If you wanted to show proportions or relative values, the humble pie chart is flavour of the day any day of the week. Ideal for illustrating market share within your industry or sector, or diversity of employees for HR analysis.

If you wanted to compare the revenue sales (or revenue distribution) of different products, a bar chart will do the job nicely.

An area chart is perfect for when you want to show the scale of change between two or more data points. Sir David Attenborough, for example, might show average annual temperatures and rainfall levels over the decades to highlight climate change.

For showing the correlation between two sets of data, one might go for a scatter chart (also known as an XY chart).

A variation of this is the bubble chart, where a third dimension is added, represented by the size of each bubble. For example, a scatter chart could illustrate how competency equates to employee performance. A bubble chart might have each bubble representing years of service, to help evaluate the relevance of experience in the comparison.

Make use of the Visual Power

The visual options in Excel are probably not given the credit they deserve. The value of visuals cannot be underestimated. This is a powerful function feature of the application.

If you want the essentials on creating charts in Excel you may find my online courses Essential Excel Skills for Business together with How to Create Excellent Spreadsheets just what you need. Together they cover way more than charts. Also included are autofill and an introduction to pivot tables, for example.

It doesn’t matter what computer you use. I created a version for Windows users
and a separate version for Mac. That’s because Excel works a little differently in each one. Either way, you’ll see me showing you what to do step-by-step.

Knowing how to create relevant data visuals for reports and presentations is a core skill for any assistant. Impress your bosses and clients. Save yourself time and frustration. Master it.

What charts do you tend to use most in Excel?

Posted in ExcelTagged

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The session was well structured and the explanation was very clear. It was amazing how Shelley managed to squeeze so much info in just one hour and a half! Colin’s support and contributions were also very valuable, and so were “Virtual Veronica”‘s. Thank you for a most interesting and useful training session at the Miss Jones Virtual Summit!

Laura Carizzo- Royal Norwegian Embassy in Argentina

I haven’t used PowerPoint in 20 years, this has really boosted my confidence.

Lyn Parker

Course is packed with so much valuable information in a easy-to-understand and follow language, even for a complete beginner. I can respect the fact that sometimes it’s very hard for an expert to break the information down to basics. but Shelley has done it brilliantly. I was sure that I knew quite a bit but Shelley has proven me wrong even at the very beginning of the basics of PowerPoint. Lessons are short and precise which allowed me to easily transfer the new skill into practice without being overwhelmed and to carry on adding on more with each lesson. I had so many ‘Aha!’ moments and for most of them I couldn’t believe I used to pay graphic designer to do it for me, now, thanks to Shelley, I am looking forward to creating, designing, converting my presentations all by myself!

Iva Freeman – Vertex Human Capital

Shelley was very thorough and knew a lot of tip’s for using Teams, thank you 🙂

James O’Connor – Cavannah Homes

Very informative, constantly getting everyone in the meeting involved, loved every bit of it!

Dylan Teal Hopkins – Cavannah Homes
Fantastic and informative training and great to see all of the exciting functions with Microsoft Teams.
Laura Rigby – The Apprenticeship College
Shelley was really clear in her teaching and went at a pace that was helpful to us. We covered all we needed to know to get us started, as a small team, using MS Teams. She was also very helpful in the run up to the session, with check in calls and ensuring our platform was set up correctly. I would highly recommend Shelley to anyone wanting to learn to navigate their way around MS Teams.
Leigh Dowling – Innuous

Microsoft Teams One to One Training Session

Shelley was approachable, easy to work with, and agile with answering questions to apply the session to my specific needs

Melissa Marshall – Present Your Science

A course on Outlook had been on the top of my list when Shelley asked VA’s what they wanted to learn.

It was a real case of ‘so that’s how you do it’ or ‘I never knew that’. I have to say that I learnt so many great tips it has definitely improved the way I work in Outlook and my inbox is looking colourful and organised and I can’t wait to share this knowledge with my clients.

Jacqueline Leake – JLeake VA Services – Outlook

A great course with lots of examples and step by step instructions. I can now confidently create infographics and as a bonus, I learnt a lot of new PowerPoint functionality that will enhance all my PowerPoint work and save me so much time.

Jessica Bailey – Integral Resource

I really like Shelley’s courses. She has a clear and easy to follow teaching style. In ‘How to Create Fillable Forms’ I’ve learned about the functions of the Developer ribbon which will mean I’ll be able to create a bespoke Returns Form for a client who has an online shop

Freya Henderson – Virtual Office Orkney

Shelley was really clear in her teaching and went at a pace that was helpful to us. We covered all we needed to know to get us started, as a small team, using MS Teams. She was also very helpful in the run up to the session, with check in calls and ensuring our platform was set up correctly. I would highly recommend Shelley to anyone wanting to learn to navigate their way around MS Teams.

Sarah Clements – Inuous

Absolutely superb course, easy to follow and to refer back whilst putting it all into practice! I was unaware of the extent you can customise a presentation and it’s just made me want to know more – what’s next Shelley?

Denise Williams

I thought I had a pretty good grasp of Outlook until I did this course! In her videos, Shelley is clear and concise, and the language she uses is straightforward and jargon-free. Each module is broken down into manageable chunks, which helps keep your attention and means the course is easy to fit in around other commitments. I’ve created email templates and implemented rules that are already saving me time, and as all the other things I’ve learnt start to become second nature, the positive impact on my efficiency is fast becoming clear. This course has been incredibly beneficial and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to strengthen their skills and boost productivity.

Pip Doleman VA

I thought I knew Powerpoint really well, but I wanted to specifically learn how to use Powerpoint to create better infographics, easily and quickly. Shelley explains everything in a very logical and clear way, so I understood everything the first time I heard it. The most useful thing I learnt was that Powerpoint can do so much more than I thought it could. By also using the short cuts that Shelley showed me I am much quicker than I have ever been and I thought I was already quick!

Susan Marot

Shelley Fishel of Tomorrow’s VA has a wealth of experience in Microsoft Office. I met her in person 2 years ago at the PA Show in London. I also saw her in action in a fab workshop and knew she was the whizz that everyone had told me she was. I have since bought a lifetime access to her HUB and all the courses in there are a MUST if you are a VA on a mission. The courses will give you confidence in all the Office 365 components and will catapult you to dizzy heights

Alex Hughes