Last time, we looked at how easy it is to generate and customise tables of data in PowerPoint. However, PowerPoint makes it simple to integrate a chart or graph too, especially since its compatible with importing and visualising Excel data. Between its creation features and built-in templates, charts and graphs are easy to create, edit, and customise according to your data sets and preferences.

Creating a Chart in PowerPoint

First choose your chart’s style that best conveys your data. Go to Insert in your top tab menu, then Chart under Illustrations. A new window will pop up which shows various choices. When you click on one, different examples of each will be shown. Along the top of the window will be different variations of charts as well. Once you’ve selected one, click OK.

Entering data into your Chart

A default one will appear in the centre of your slide. There will also be a new green window with a spreadsheet similar to Microsoft Excel, which contains your new data. If you look closely, you will see how the data correlates with your chart’s appearance.

As you edit, the changes will reflect in real time. You can also expand or reduce the bounding box in your spreadsheet by clicking and dragging the bottom right box if you need to add or subtract data from the default one.

When you’re finished, you can close the spreadsheet by clicking the X in the right-hand corner. If you need to edit the data later, you can always bring the spreadsheet back up by right-clicking on your charts and clicking Edit Data.

Formatting the Chart

Change the Chart Title by clicking into the Title box. You can change the text, font and size just like in a normal textbox.  You can also change the size of the chart itself using the handlebars in the corners to make it taller or wider.

When the chart is selected, you’ll see three icons pop up on the top right of the chart. The first is this green plus sign. If you click on it, you can see all the Chart Elements, such as axis and data labels, with a checkbox beside each. The ones that are currently visible in your chart have been checked. You can check or uncheck these as you wish to simplify your charts or to better highlight specific information.

The next icon is the paintbrush symbol, which stands for Chart Styles. Here you can quickly change the look of yours using preset examples in the Style drop-down menu. You can hover over each example to see how it might look before you select one. You can also quickly change the colours by selecting the Colour tab in this menu, which will have preset colour combinations made from your Theme colours.

The last icon is the funnel, which is for Chart Filters. This will open a menu that has two tabs, Values and Names, which both list all the labels currently in your charts with a checkbox beside each. You can toggle each label on and off using this menu by checking or unchecking the boxes and then clicking Apply.

To further format your chart, open the Format Pane to see more options and settings. Depending on which part of the chart is selected, the Format Pane will open a different menu. Open the Format Pane and click the Chart once to open the Format Chart Area menu, or right-click the outer part of the chart and click Format Chart Area. This edits the entire background of the chart itself just like you would a shape or textbox, including fill and line options, effects, and text options.

Now click inside of the chart to where the plot lines are. This will open Plot Area Options on your Format Pane. Again, you can edit line, fill and effects here, which will show up in the area right behind your graph’s data.

Clicking on the actual data, so a column for example, will open Series Options. Here you can edit the look of each individual series; fill, line, special effects, but also other series options depending on the style of chart. In a column one for example, we can adjust the width between series.

Clicking any of the axes will also give you Axis Options. Here you’ll be able to adjust settings such as how the axis looks, where the labels sit, and how numbers are represented. Lastly, if you click on the legend, you’ll get Legend Options in your Format Pane, where you can adjust how it looks, and where the legend sits within the chart box.

Importing a Chart from Excel

Since Excel and PowerPoint are both Microsoft programs, importing into PowerPoint is simple. First go to your chart in Excel, select it and press Copy. Return to your PowerPoint slide and go to your Paste dropdown menu in the Home tab. Alternatively, you can right-click anywhere on the slide to access the same Paste options. PowerPoint will give you five different ways to paste the chart into the document.

The first option is Use Destination Theme & Embed Workbook, which sets the chart’s colours and fonts as default to your PowerPoint document, regardless of what it looked like in Excel. This is helpful if you want yours to match aesthetically to the rest of your document.

Embed Workbook means that it will also import the spreadsheet that your charts are linked to in Excel, which means your data will always be linked to charts, which you can edit it within PowerPoint itself.

This is recommended especially if you are sharing your work with others, as it means that even if you send the document to someone else, or open the file on another computer, the chart’s data will always be there, and the chart will always be editable.

The second option is Keep Source Formatting & Embed Workbook. This means that the Workbook is embedded just like the previous option, but it will keep its original colours and fonts from the Excel document. This is a good option if your charts are made with very specific colours that you don’t want changed when importing into PowerPoint.

The third option is to Use Destination Theme & Link Data. This will use your PowerPoint’s colours and fonts like the first option but won’t embed the Excel workbook into PowerPoint. What it will do instead is make a link to the Excel spreadsheet it was made from. This option is good if you plan on editing the Excel spreadsheet later since any changes made to that spreadsheet in Excel will automatically reflect in the one in PowerPoint.

Be aware that if either the Excel or the PowerPoint files are moved (this includes sending the PowerPoint file over email), the link between the two will be broken and the chart will not be able to be edited unless the Excel is relinked.

The fourth option is to Keep Source Formatting & Link Data. This will keep the chart’s original colours and fonts like in option 2 but make a link to the Excel spreadsheet instead of embedding it like in option 3.

The fifth option is simply to paste as a Picture, so the chart’s got no editability options but ensures the original format of the chart is copied. This is a good option if you’re having trouble resizing a chart to fit your design or don’t plan on editing the chart.

Why not animate your chart to add some better highlights and focus points for you audience? Check out our Pre-made Animation templates so you can easily integrate your own designs and data into PowerPoint and start designing with ease.