Whether you deal with scientific or business data, Microsoft Excel is a valuable tool for storing your information in powerful spreadsheets. When you need to communicate your data or extrapolate trends, Microsoft Excel has the ability to display your results in a variety of graphical formats. The user can select a chart type, a chart style and a chart layout. However, there is an art to achieving maximal visual impact which requires you to choose the format that is best suited to your needs.

A chart is a graphical representation of your data. If you are new to Microsoft Excel, you may be unaware of the different chart types and subtypes that are available for use. Available options include the following:
Column charts - subtypes include clustered column, stacked column, 3-D column and cylinder, cone, and pyramid charts
Line charts - subtypes include line with markers, stacked line and stacked line with markers and 3-D line charts
Pie charts - subtypes include pie in 3-D, pie of pie, bar of pie and exploded pie charts
Bar charts - subtypes include clustered bar, stacked bar in 3-D and horizontal cylinder, cone and pyramid pie charts
Area charts - subtypes include 2-D area, 3-D area and stacked area charts
XY (scatter) charts - subtypes include scatter with markers, smooth lines or straight lines
Stock charts - subtypes include high-low-close, open-high-low-close and volume-high-low-close charts
Surface charts - subtypes include 3-D surface, wireframe 3-D surface, contour and wireframe contour charts
Doughnut charts - subtypes include doughnut and exploded doughnut charts
Bubble charts - subtypes include bubble and bubble with 3-D effect
Radar charts - subtypes include radar with markers and filled radar charts

Training will enable you understand the differences between these various formats and therefore allow to select the appropriate graph for displaying your data, whether you are dealing with product inventories, financial figures or scientific research data. The goal is to create a high impact chart that effectively communicates data to your intended audience.

Having selected a chart type, modifications may be required to highlight particular trends, for example. Charts can be customized with pictures, graphics, shapes, colours, additional shortcuts, fills and labels. There are different options for viewing your charts whether on paper or on screen. Excel courses will cover ways of manipulating graphs and how to use these features to best effect.

Even if you are familiar with creating charts in Excel, you may feel that you could be using the software more effectively and thereby save yourself time. At an advanced level, Excel courses cover the use of VBA to create and modify charts.