Add a personal touch to your charts with a company image

 

by Kara Hiltz

Application: Microsoft Excel 365/2016

Operating System: Microsoft Windows

After making dozens—maybe hundreds—of Excel charts as part of your job, they all start looking the same. There are a lot of ways to jazz up your charts, and Excel 365 makes it easier to pull images from online sources, such as Flickr, Facebook, or Bing Search when you want to use a company logo or other graphic as your chart area background.

To use an online company image as a chart background, we’ll:

  • Create a standard chart in Excel.
  • Navigate to the online image we want to use as the fill for the chart area.
  • Adjust the transparency so the image doesn’t block out our chart data.

Excel users are always looking for new ways to spice up a chart. For businesses, there’s nothing better than adding an image that’s personal to the company, such as a logo, a picture of the office building, or even a picture of employees’ friendly faces.

We’ll show you how to use an image that you get from an online source as the background for a chart, as shown in Figure A. Excel 365 offers new options for accessing images you have stored online, or for getting images through Bing’s search engine.

 

IME18501A

A:

Employees and associates will think you spent hours on a chart thanks to its personal company touch.

 

Create an Excel chart

Using an image as the fill for a chart’s background works best when you’re using simpler chart types, such as bar charts or line charts. A technique like ours wouldn’t work for a pie chart or other chart type that doesn’t have much room for a background image.

For our purposes, we created a no-nonsense column chart showing the sum of company hires per month across the company’s three branches, as shown in Figure B.

To create a chart from the data table:

  1. Select any cell within the data range. We’ll select cell A1.
  2. Switch to the Insert tab and, in the Charts area, click the Recommended Charts button.
  3. Select the Clustered Column chart type (the first in the list) in the Insert Chart dialog box and click OK.

 

Excel opens a new worksheet with the data formatted as a PivotTable, along with the accompanying PivotChart that sums the hires across all of the branches by month. You’ll also see the PivotChart Fields sidebar to the right, as shown in Figure C.

 

IME18501B

B:

You can use any data that works well as a column, bar, or line chart with a lot of room for a background image.

IME18501C

C:

This technique works with a regular chart or a PivotChart.

Note: Your data table and chart may not necessarily be converted into a PivotTable and PivotChart. It will depend on the kind of data you have and the format of your data table.

Find the online image you want

Now that you have a chart (or PivotChart), it’s time to fill the chart area with an image you can access online through one of the sharing site options in Excel 365.

To access an online image for your chart area’s fill:

  1. With the chart selected, right-click on the chart and choose Format Chart Area from the shortcut menu. The Format Chart Area sidebar displays.
  2. In the Fill & Line section under the icon that resembles a paint bucket pouring paint, cli[...]
 
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