Line and Area Charts

Line and area charts are constructed to show changes over time. Line charts demonstrate changes in a specific trend for a single data group.

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Customizing Lines and Markers

Measurements in line and area charts are indicated by markers and joined with straight line segments. Lines can be displayed with varying styles and colors. Marker size, shape, fill colors and borders are highly customizable. To adjust these options, right-click on your chart and choose Chart Properties.

Lines can be shown or hidden using the Line slider under the Series section of the Chart Properties panel. With the lines showing, click on a line to select or use the drop down to choose the series for the line you’d like to work with. Now you can change the color of the line and the markers using the color picker. You can also change the Line Width, the Dash Style, or create a Rounded Line.

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Go to the Marker section of the panel or click on a marker in your chart to access the associated settings. Markers can be shown or hidden using the slider in the Series section. If you want to display the markers again, make sure the slider is to the right.

To format markers, click on a marker to select all of the markers for a particular series. Click again to select a single marker. Now you can choose from a number of different marker shapes using the drop down in the Chart Properties panel.

You can also adjust the color of the marker with the color picker and set a border to make the marker shape stand out.Finally, you can increase or decrease the size of the markers as desired.

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To learn more about chart formatting, see Customizing Chart Appearance.

Modifying Data Labels

The labels for each data point can be shown or hidden as desired. This gives you complete control over data display. Use the Chart Properties panel to show or hide labels for one or more data points and to control the positioning of the labels.

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Basic formatting of the data labels such as font size or color can be controlled from the chart and the Edit toolbar. Select the labels you’d like to work with and use the text Edit options.

To format data labels, select the labels that you want to format and apply formatting options from the Edit toolbar. To control the positioning of the labels, use the drop-down to choose Top, Bottom, Left, Right or Center.

Some label formatting for data points is controlled from the data table. Click the Chart Data icon to open the chart data table. Select the data you’d like to work with and use the Formats panel to set the Format, Entered In, Shown In, Formulas, Decimals and Leader dots.

Please see Chart Label Positions and Value Formatting for Chart Labels.

Formatting Chart Axes and Labels

Basic formatting for chart axis labels such as font size and color can be controlled from the Edit toolbar. Click on the axis labels and use the appropriate Edit icons.

Adjusting the step size, grid lines and tick marks for a line or area chart can significantly clarify the data presented. When information is clustered too closely, the spacing of the lines or fill areas can be altered by adjusting the Min Value and Max Value for the left axis:

1
Select the chart, right-click and choose Chart Properties.
2
Use the drop-down to adjust the Min Value to change the starting point for the data.
3
Change the Max Value to adjust the uppermost value of the left axis.

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The Step Size setting will allow you to change the interval and scale of values displayed on the left axis.

If you don’t want the settings in the data table associated with your chart to affect the display in your chart, go to the Chart Properties panel and click the Override link in the Left Axis settings section. Now you can set the value formatting separately for the chart display.

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Additional settings let you show or hide ticks, gridlines, and the axis line itself. For the left axis, you can also choose to Show Zero Line. For the bottom axis, you can expand the line to Expand to Edge.

The Rotation setting in the Chart Properties panel gives you the option to change the rotation of the labels for either axis. For example, you can shift the labels on the bottom axis to a vertical position.

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You can use the data table for the chart to set additional options for the values of the measurement axis labels. Select the chart and click the Data icon in the Edit toolbar to open the data table. Then select the labels in the data table such as a series of dates.

This will open the Formats panel to the right, allowing you to access the settings needed to create a custom prefix or suffix, adding leading zeros, including thousands separators and more.

For more information on formatting, see Value Formatting for Chart Labels.

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For more information on display options, see Axis and Series Display for Charts.

Working with Area Charts

Area charts are similar to line charts but emphasize changes in values by using color fills to compare quantities. The depiction of solid areas helps to emphasize the magnitude of a trend.

Two or more quantities can be compared with an area chart. Because of the overlapping nature of the data, area charts are generally useful for comparing a small number of categories. The areas in a chart are stacked on top of one another, making the choice of color and opacity for each area critical for data visibility.

You can customize the plot fill on an area chart using the Opacity setting in the Chart Properties panel. This allows you to create areas of your chart that are more or less transparent as desired.

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What’s Next

To further customize your line or area chart: