08 December, 2008

Use a Formula in an Excel Column, Bar, Line, or Pie Chart

When you create Excel charts, you can populate the title with a formula. You might find this helpful to display a total quantity, such as in this example. Suppose you have 30 students and you are displaying their grade distribution in a pie chart.

Here's what you do. Steps 1 - 4 set up the data; step 5 creates the Title formula; step 6 creates a pie chart.
  1. In the first column, skip the first line (A1) for the Title (we'll come back)
  2. In rows 2 - 6 of the first column (A2:A6), add the letter grades, A - D and F
  3. In column 2, rows 2 - 6 (B2:B6), add the number of grades of each type
  4. In column 2, row 7 (B7), sum the number of grades to get your student total
  5. Now go back to the first cell (A1) and add the following formula: ="Grade Distribution, " & B7 & " students"
    • B7 is the same cell we put our total in, in step 4
    • If you want to format the value contained in B7m remember the TEXT functioned discussed in an earlier post
  6. Create your pie chart
    • Highlight the data, cells A2 to B6
    • Click the Chart Wizard
    • Select Pie
    • Click Next
    • Click on the Series tab
    • Click on the mini-cells graphic to the right of Name
    • Click on A1 and press Enter
    • Click Finish

To recap, it is the Series Name field in a pie chart that also serves as the Title. The Series Name field can be entered manually or refer to any cell, and the cell may contain a formula. This same technique will work for Column, Bar, and Line charts as long as your are only looking at one set of data (like you do with a pie chart).

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