Excel Tip of the Month - April 2017
By Aaron Cooper, Partner, Brown Smith Wallace

Charts are one of the best ways to visualize your data in Microsoft Excel. There are a variety of chart types, including column, line, pie, bar, area, and scatter. The basic procedure for creating a chart is the same no matter which type of chart you choose. 

Follow these 5 simple steps to successfully create a chart in Excel. 

Step 1: Select the cells 
This is the easy part. Once you have entered your data, select the range of cells you would like displayed in the chart.

Step 2: Choose the type of chart 

Next, go to the ‘Insert’ tab and select the type of chart that will best display your data. Generally, line charts are best used to display relationships, pie charts are best used to communicate compositions, and scatter plots are best used to show distributions. 

Step 3: Switch axes, if necessary
If your data on the X and Y axis appear reversed, right click on the chart and click ‘Select Data,’ and click ‘Switch Row/Column.’

Step 4: Adjust your labels, if desired
To change the layout of the labeling, click on the chart, then click the ‘Layout’ tab. Here you can choose what layout you prefer for the chart and axes titles.

Step 5: Reorder data, if desired
To sort the data in descending popularity order, click on the column that is most important to you and click on the ‘Data’ tab, and click ‘Filter.’ Then go back to Column B, click the down arrow, and click ‘Sort Largest to Smallest.’

PRO TIP: In order to make succeeding chart creation easier, save the charts you create as templates for future use.  
Aaron is a partner in the Brown Smith Wallace Insurance Advisory Services practice. He is a regular content contributor to IASA national and the St. Louis chapter. You can reach Aaron at acooper@bswllc.com.