How to make your Excel charts look more professional

The default settings in Excel spit out pretty terrible looking charts. But it’s not too difficult to turn something like this:

Screen Shot 2013-10-21 at 4.07.54 PM

Into something more like this:

Screen Shot 2013-10-21 at 4.08.03 PM

Note the specific steps for the transformation:

  • The move from a legend to direct labeling
  • The reduction of excessive axes lines and tick mark labels to reduce visual clutter
  • Highlighting the data of interest and de-emphasizing the others
  • Adding the headline, text, and source

Follow this tutorial from Storytelling with Data to see the step-by-step guide that took the default graph style to its more refined, and ultimately more effective, finished state.

Finally: an animated GIF of the process of stripping away unnecessary graphics to focus on the data and the message:

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