A chart is a tool you can use to communicate data graphically. Including a chart in a presentation allows your audience to see the meaning behind the numbers, which makes it easy to visualize comparisons and trends.
Optional: Download our practice presentation for this lesson.
Watch the video below to learn more about using charts in PowerPoint.
Types of charts
powerpoint has several types of charts, allowing you to choose the one that best fits your data. In order to use charts effectively, you’ll need to understand how different charts are used.
Column charts use vertical bars to represent data. They can work with many different types of data, but they’re most frequently used for comparing information.
Line charts are ideal for showing trends. The data points are connected with lines, making it easy to see whether values are increasing or decreasing over time.
Pie charts make it easy to compare proportions. Each value is shown as a slice of the pie, so it’s easy to see which values make up the percentage of a whole.
Bar charts work just like column charts, but they use horizontal bars instead of vertical bars.
Area charts are similar to line charts, except the areas under the lines are filled in.
Surface charts allow you to display data across a 3D landscape. They work best with large data sets, allowing you to see a variety of information at the same time.
Identifying the parts of a chart
In addition to chart types, you’ll need to understand how to read a chart. Charts contain several different elements—or parts—that can help you interpret data.
Click the buttons in the interactive below to learn about the different parts of a chart.
The data series consists of the related data points in a chart. In this example, as we can see in the legend, the yellow columns represent net sales in February.
The horizontal axis (also known as the x axis) is the horizontal part of the chart. Here, the horizontal axis identifies the categories in the chart. In this example, each genre is placed in its own group.
The legend identifies which data series each color on the chart represents. In this example, the legend identifies the different months in the chart.
The title should clearly describe what the chart is illustrating.
The vertical axis (also known as the y axis) is the vertical part of the chart. Here, the vertical axis measures the value of the columns. In this example, the measured value is each genre’s total sales.