If you've mastered the basics of Microsoft Office Excel 2007, it's a good time to learn more about really making a statement with your data and learning how to use the Charts tool to create another dimension to your worksheet.

As well as being a powerful program to create and format spreadsheets, Microsoft Office Excel 2007 has the facility to help you create charts from raw data, in order to analyse and share information in a visual medium. With Microsoft Office Excel 2007, you can keep track of figures and convert spreadsheet data into a professional-looking chart. Charts no longer need to be just a group of facts and figures on a flat page - now you can really bring your worksheet data to life.

Spreadsheet data can be used to create a chart representation of key facts and figures, and it's simple to insert a chart and apply your data. Select the data on your workbook you would like to apply to a chart presentation, including text and numbers. The selected data can be combined into a chart which is easily modified, using predefined styles and layouts.

Using the Microsoft Office Ribbon, click on the Insert tab. Now go to the Chart group which shows the range of charts available. Select the data on your workbook you would like to apply to a chart presentation, including text and numbers. The selected data can be combined into a chart which is easily modified, using predefined styles and layouts.

Microsoft Office Excel 2007 generates the chart from the data you selected and places it in the worksheet. Data is converted automatically, for example, into a simple bar chart using the data in your columns for each different field. Excel will automatically create a scale rating to data provided on the vertical access, and establish a horizontal axis on the bottom of the chart.

Microsoft Office Excel 2007 has a host of predefined chart layouts and chart styles to choose from. You can manually format each component if preferred, such as axes, titles, and other chart labels. There are stunning effects including 3-D and soft shadowing to help create a stimulating and informative presentation.

As you get up to speed with using the chart facility, it is easy to apply stunning visual events, creating real impact with your presentations. A well presented chart should be easy to read and to understand, and will ensure that anyone looking at the chart can make an informed decision from a visual they can easily interpret.

Even the legend can be created so that different colours represent different sets of data. A chart can be customised using chart tools which appear in the Design layout tab; and a Format tab includes all the commands required to manipulate the charts. To see how this works, using the Format tab, find the Shape Styles group, and click the arrow on Shape Effects. Point to Shadow. You can see a preview of the shadows as you rest the pointer on each style, and you can decide on the one you want and select for use.

There are more options in Shape Styles that you can choose from to add dimension to a chart. For example, using Shape Fill you can add a gradient or a texture to the columns. Go to Shape Outline to add an outline around the columns. And Shape Effects offers more than shadows. You can add bevel effects and soft edges to columns, or even make columns glow.

Chart Tools will appear when a chart is selected, showing three tabs, Design, Layout, and Format. The commands you need to work with the charts will appear on these tabs. When you click off of the chart they disappear.

On the chart layouts group on the Design tab, different layouts with titles and other data such as timelines can be applied with one click. The layout can also be manipulated to how you prefer the text within the chart to be aligned or positioned.

There's a vast array of other styles to choose from, too. Charts and graphs now support 16 million colours. This makes it easier to view and compare data in a way which is unique to your presentation. But if you prefer to have more control and flexibility with Styles, the Format tab allows you to format individual elements in your chart such as changing the font and colour of headline or text. The drop down gallery offers a preview of what a font will look like if applied. Move and pause the pointer over options to get an idea of how the changes will look. Then, when you're happy with the selection, click on the style you would like to apply.

By using the Save As Template facility you can use the same chart design again in order to give all your presentations a continuity of style. Click on the chart, and then on the Design tab, in the Type group, then select Save As Template. Any changes that you make to the worksheet data after the chart is created are instantly shown in the chart. The template can now be viewed in the Charts Gallery and copied and pasted into other programs such as Word 2007.

Once you have mastered the basic techniques of creating a chart, you can do even more with data. Chart data comparison, for example, allows you to compare data another way by switching the chart view from one view to another. Comparison and analysis is much easier by viewing and comparing data from different time scales or projects against others.

To see exactly how your spreadsheet will print with the chart in place, use the Page Layout View. You can also add or edit headers and footers and view how these look before saving and finalising your entire document.

When your chart looks just the way you want it to, it's easy to add it to a PowerPoint file. And if the chart data changes after you add the chart to PowerPoint, don't worry. Changes to the chart data in Microsoft Office Excel 2007 are updated in the chart in PowerPoint as well. By copying the chart in Excel, you can open PowerPoint 2007 and paste the chart into a slide.

If you use Microsoft Office Excel 2007, why not take advantage of the powerful Excel charting functionality in other 2007 Microsoft Office system programs, such as Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 and Microsoft Office Word 2007? You can even create and interact with charts, regardless of the application you are using.

If there's more uncharted territory you'd like to explore with Microsoft Office Excel 2007, embark on a professional training course - there are many Chart functions to discover and that way you'll gain the knowledge needed to really put the wind in your sails.