As a student or even a future teacher, time is very limited. Knowing ways to save time are crucial and can save us extra work. Putting together presentations and projects can be very stressful and time consuming. Not only do you have to focus on the content of the presentation, but also on how the presentation looks and how it is delivered. Different programs now have numerous tools to make presentations and projects look polished and professional. Despite this asset, if you don’t know how to use these tools to your advantage it can be very time consuming and stressful.
When creating graphs for presentations and projects, especially when working with Microsoft Excel, there are many shortcut keys to save users time and work. In the lynda.com course named Excel 2010: Charts in Depth, chapter 2 is about and entitled Creating Basic Charts Quickly. This chapter includes 5 videos spanning 16 minutes that cover different ways to create charts differently and more importantly, quickly. This blog post will only cover the first 4 videos. Although this lynda.com course covers Excel 2010 for Windows users, Mac users can find similar information in the course Excel for Mac 2011 Essential Training in chapter 6 entitled Working with charts.
The first video entitled Selecting data to display as a chart is a basic overview of the importance of what data you include within a chart. This is important in deciding what data will make your chart easy to understand. In addition to stressing the importance of what data you include, this chapter also shows users how to select contiguous and noncontiguous ranges of cells. When selecting contiguous ranges of data the user just clicks and drags to select adjacent data. In order to select noncontigous or non adjacent ranges of cells, you must click and drag and then hold down the control button for Windows or the command button for Mac users and then click and drag to select the rest of the non adjacent range.
An example of when you would need to create a chart using non contiguous data would be in order to show just a specific portion of your data. If I was a teacher who wanted to show which of the three items in the fundraiser the 1st graders had the most success with, I would create a pie chart using only the data from the 1st graders. I would select the column that has the labels of cookie dough, magazines, and wrapping paper in addition to the amount of money made in order to create this specific chart. This creates a pie chart that shows the different amounts of the first graders sales in a pie chart that easily shows which of the three the first graders had the most success with. From the chart you can conclude they had the most success with wrapping paper.
The second video called Creating charts instantly with shortcuts discusses the two major key strokes within Excel that let you create charts instantly. If you select the data you want in your chart and hit F11, it will instantly create a new chart on a new page for you. The new chart defaults as a clustered column chart. You can change this default if you would like in your settings. If you select the data you want in your chart and hit alt+F1, Excel will create a new chart on the same page as your data as opposed to creating a new page when you hit F11.
In Creating charts with standard menu commands, this video teaches users how to create charts manually using the ribbon instead of shortcuts. A user will start by once again selecting the data they want to include in their chart. They will then go up to the ribbon at the top of the window and if you are working on a Windows computer you will click insert. There are various different charts to choose from including column, line, pie and bar. Within these different charts there are more options to choose from in regards to the display of the chart. Once you select which chart you want, it creates it and it appears on the same page as the data. If you are working on a Mac, instead of clicking an insert tab in the ribbon, you will click a charts tab in the ribbon. This option is shown in the screenshot displayed above. Once you’ve created these quick charts there are vital parts of it missing that set it apart from being just a chart to a presentational chart.
The next video, Creating presentation-ready charts with just a few adjustments, discusses how to put finishing touches on already made charts for presentation purposes. Once you select a chart there are many different layout options on the chart ribbon to choose from in order to include axis, labels, titles, and legends to get your chart ready to present. I used this layout option to add a title at the top of the chart, axis labels on the x axis and the y axis as well as a legend showing which colors represent the different items sold in the fundraiser. It is now ready for presentations, allowing your audience to understand the data being presented.
After watching this chapter from lynda.com, I have learned new ways to efficiently use Excel to my advantage! These skills will allow me to create polished and professional charts that I will be able to use in school and in the real world too. Being able to create charts to use in your classroom can be very helpful. If you need more help making an Excel spreadsheet look polished and professional check out Maria H.’s blog post Formatting a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. If you need to learn about how to calculate data within a spreadsheet the blog post by Anna B. entitled Excel: Using Formulas and Functions for Calculations can give you more information! If you want to create spreadsheets through Google Drive for a project or presentation read Victoria B.’s Creating Spreadsheets in Google Drive to help you! As future teachers, what ways could you use spreadsheets, charts and graphs in your classroom? Please comment below your thoughts on these cool short cuts as well as ways you use Excel too.