MS Graph

Categories: PPT 97/2000.

MS Graph is the bane of my existence.

MS Graph is the charting engine that Excel and PowerPoint share. More features are exposed in Excel than in PPT, so there are times when it’s better to graph data in Excel and copy/paste the charts into PPT when they’re finished.

Regardless of whether you’re charting in Excel or in PPT, there are some tricks that will help you.

1. The first thing to learn about is keeping the chart color scheme intact.

Go read about color schemes (especially about MS Graph and color schemes) and then come back here.

Now that you have a clue where the colors in a graph actually come from, this little trick will come in handy, especially when you paste graphs in from Excel.

Create a chart in Excel, select it and copy it, then paste it on a slide in a new presentation with a different template and/or color scheme. It might look somewhat like the graph below.

Now turn on your Picture Toolbar. Go to View/Toolbars/Picture to turn it on.

Select the chart on the slide and then hit the Recolor Picture button on your Picture Toolbar.

You will be presented with a dialog box that looks like this:

You can choose to recolor the entire chart to match the color scheme of the slide, which would look something like this in our example:

Or you can choose to recolor just the text and background colors. That would look something like this in our example:

Or, of course, you can choose “None,” which is the equivalent of hitting the Cancel button.

This little trick saves me hours of work!

Be aware, though, if your color scheme on your slide is messed up, your chart colors will be messed up as well.

For example, just yesterday I received a slide from someone that had a picture applied to the background of the slide master. But nobody had updated the slide color scheme to match.

So, even though the picture was mostly white, the first color swatch for slide background was still assigned to a dark color, and the second swatch (assigned to text and lines) was light. That caused my chart to recolor with light text and lines on a dark background, which did notlook good on the white-colored photograph background.

So if you recolor your chart, but it doesn’t recolor correctly, start looking at your color scheme.

See? There is a reason I told you to read all that stuff about color schemes first!

Oh, and yes, this trick will also work when copying PPT charts to different slides in PPT 2002 and 2003.

2. Turn of font autoscaling.

Right-click in the chart area and choose Format Chart Area. Go to the Font tab. Turn off (deselect) autoscaling. Now assign a different font size.

Once you’ve done that, click outside the chart. If the fonts aren’t right, you might have to double-click to reopen the chart and go in and select a different font size yet again. But since you’ve turned off the autoscale when you did this the first time, the second time the font change should “take.”

3. Do not drag to resize your graph on the slide. You’ll end up stretching it out of proportion and probably messing up your fonts in the process.

Newsgroup question: How do I make a chart/graph bigger without stretching its text

Answer:Right-click the chart, select Format Object. On the Size tab, set the chart to 100% by 100%. It may be larger than your slide, but nevermind that for now. Double-click to open it.Right-click in the chart area and choose Format Chart Area. Go to the Font tab. Turn off (deselect) autoscaling. Now assign a different font size. OK your way out of that dialog box and then resize the entire chart area by pulling on the herringboned edges while the chart is still opened. You can resize the chart plot area itself within the entire chart area as necessary. Once it’s all sized, click outside the chart. If the fonts aren’t right, you might have to double-click to reopen the chart and go in and select a different font size yet again. But since you’ve turned off the autoscale when you did this the first time, the second time the font change should “take.” The upshot is, don’t resize charts without opening them. Dragging their handles to resize while on the slide itself is a sure-fire way to screw up your font size because that “autoscale” is turned on by default. And when you drag on the slide, rarely does the slide end up being resized proportionately.And as I mentioned, you can resize the plot area of your graph inside the chart area. It’s good to make your plot area consistent with your chart area — otherwise you end up dragging (on the slide) the edge of the chart object off the edge of the slide in order to make the chart itself larger on the slide. And that contributes to screwing up the proportion and stretches the data and the fonts. (I use the word “consistent” loosely; I just can’t think of the right word there. Basically, you don’t want the chart area to be enormous with this little tiny graph in the corner of it. I see that happen *all* the time in slides I’ve received from clients.)

4. If your fonts are looking squished or otherwise out of proportion and you’re using a wide-screen display, updating your video drivers should take care of it. If you’re using 2 monitors and extending the desktop, disabling/not extending to the second can sometimes resolve the issue also.

5. If you have trouble selecting something on the chart, use the dropdown box on the toolbar.

6. How to animate a chart by series or category.

7. The default font on a user-defined (default) chart style may not work. If that’s the case, try closing the chart, and in PPT itself, go to Tools/Options/Edit and deselect “new charts take on PPT fonts.”