While it's not essential for most of us to make a model or algorithm come alive in our Excel presentations, it is crucial to present your workbooks in an interesting and inspiring way - especially if your expectant audience does not share your love of detail. Clients, for example, don't always need to read and understand the facts and figures behind the findings - and winning the pitch sometimes boils down to what customer types you have identified to target, not the data that justifies this. Remember, if your audience knows something - they will get excited by it.

This is especially true when you need to represent the results from mining huge volumes of data about customers and their product usage. In an academic environment, showing how you have arrived at a conclusion is critical, as is showing any mitigating factors, such as error rates. With Excel 2010, you can create a "predict and act" worksheet, rather than a "sense and respond" alternative that standard reporting tools tend to support.

Excel 2010 allows you to create and modify graphics and shapes to ensure that you are presenting the most valid and relevant data in an interesting way. For many of us, a worksheet full of data arranged in cells is not the easiest way to understand information, so why not add a chart? Visual representations work much better than numbers alone. Think of a chart as the snapshot that is going to help your client 'see' what route has to be followed. There's a host of presentation formats for charts, including bars, lines, pies, and surface or bubble charts.

Charts can be used to illustrate trends and show relationships between numbers. Representing one set of data and its relationship to another set of data is an effective and quick way to summarise your findings. There are plenty of options in Excel 2010 to create a bespoke chart to marry up with your data. For example you can use a pie chart to compare parts of a whole; or a column chart to compare figures across different sales regions; and if you need to show data changes across a period of time, then an area chart will do this for you.

You can create either an embedded chart (a chart that is embedded in an existing worksheet), or one that is displayed in its own worksheet. To decide which type of chart you need to create, you should first map out the essential elements. There are several essential elements in any Excel chart:
• a title - this indicates the purpose of your chart
• a data marker - a bar, circle, dot or other object that illustrates a data point
• the y-axis - the vertical chart axis
• the x-axis - the horizontal axis
• data series - which is a set of related data points in your chart
• a legend - this provides the instruction that explain the colours or symbols in your chart

One you have selected the data you need to convert into a chart, click the insert tab, then select the charts dialog box launcher. Now simply pick the style of chart you would like to convert your data into. Once you have created your chart you can select the chart elements. Use the chart tools on the layout tab to edit your elements. You can also click on a chart element to select directly. You can now go ahead and edit your chart to change colours etc, and then format chart elements which controls the way in which your data is presented. Formatting options differ depending on the element you have selected. For example, border styles include width, compound type, dash type, cap type, join type and arrow settings.

You can also resize a chart, move a chart, edit the title of a chart, and even change chart labels. Formatting chart text is simple, too: use WordArt to add 3-D shapes to your Excel chart. Even the colour background can be altered by choosing to recolour the chart wall, chart floor or plot area. Fills, border styles and shadows can all be designed using the colour palette in the more wall options command. You can also create pivot charts from a pivot table, and then customise to your own use. If you're using Excel 2010, don't be shy to show your deeper data - put it in a chart.