Modify your charts in seconds with Excel pop-up palettes


by Kara Hiltz

Application: Microsoft Excel 2016

Operating System: Microsoft Windows, Macintosh


Excel 2016 added a pop-up palette feature for Excel charts that condenses chart-editing options into a few icons that you can expand into palettes. Time to take advantage of this method of working with charts!

To maximize our use of Excel’s chart-editing features, we’ll:

  • Add and remove items from our chart using the Chart Elements pop-up palette.
  • Format our chart in seconds using the Styles and Colors pop-up palettes.
  • Determine what data our chart displays using the Filter pop-up palette.

Microsoft wants to make working with data and presenting data visually as easy as possible. In Excel 2016, you can modify charts easily without hunting down icons in the Ribbon. Instead, many of the tools you need to edit your chart are attached to icons in the top-right corner of your selected chart, as shown in Figure A. These icons expand into pop-up palettes.

This feature can be a great timesaver. We’ll familiarize you with the chart pop-up palettes in Excel 2016 so you can begin to work with them—or advance your basic knowledge of them—and use them to great effect in your own spreadsheets.


A: The chart icons that display to the upper-right of your chart are contextual; they may change depending on your data and chart type.

Create a sample chart

To demonstrate Excel 2016's chart pop-up palettes, we'll devise a simple line chart showing the average weekly temperature over 15 weeks, as shown in Figure B.

Download: To get our example at your fingertips without re-creating it, just download and extract the file chartpopup.xls from the URL


B: Our simple example includes weekly average temperatures to include in a line chart.

To create the chart and view its pop-up palettes:

  • Select any cell within the data.
  • Switch to the Insert tab and then click Recommended Charts in the Charts area.
  • Select the Line Chart option on the left side of the Insert Chart dialog box, as shown in Figure C.

Excel generates a line chart, opens the contextual Chart Tools Ribbon, and also displays three icons along the top-right side of the chart, as shown in Figure A.


C: Excel 2016 now recommends certain chart types based on the data you select to include in the chart.

Add and remove chart elements

The chart pop-up palettes that display may differ depending on your chart type, but the one icon that remains the same is the Chart Elements pop-up palette, as shown in Figure D. This icon, which resembles a plus sign, displays a list of your chart’s many elements, such as axes, a title, and a legend, to name a few. The simple Chart Elements list makes it easy to add or remove chart elements in seconds.


D: The Chart Elements pop-up palette resembles a checklist.

To modify your chart using the Chart Elements pop-up palette:

  • Click on the Chart Elements icon in the top-right corner of a selected chart.
  • Select a check box beside a chart element to add it to your chart.
  • For further options concerning a chart element, click[...]
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