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Building charts in PowerPoint

Here's a 4-step approach to build eye-catching 3D bar charts.
It's designed for those who have a basic understanding of how
to create and animate PowerPoint slides.


Display and set gridlines.

Turn on PowerPoint's gridlines.
They keep text and data aligned;
this makes it easier to draw and size
your graphic bars.

In PowerPoint 2003 (as shown here)
View menu > Grids and Guides.
> Click box: "Snap objects to grid"
> Set the spacing: .05
> Click box: "Display drawing lines on screen."

In PowerPoint 2007: On the Home tab,
in the Drawing group, click Arrange,
point to "Align"; then click "Grid Settings."
> Click the box "Snap objects to grid"
> Set the spacing to .05
> Click box: "Display drawing lines on screen."

Move gridlines by placing your cursor
over a line. Hold down the left mouse button.

Add new lines by doing the above + holding
down the CONTROL key. Move the new line.

Suggested margins (red arrows 1-4)
> Left and right (arrows 1 and 2): 4.50
> Top and bottom (arrows 3 and 4): 3.25

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Draw and size bars.

For this example, our sample chart will contain
6 bars.

First, create gridlines for the size of each box
and the spacing between them.

Next, use the rectangle drawing tool (red arrow).
Draw the first bar between the gridlines (notice
it snaps into place—this ensures that each
bar will be identical in size).

Copy and paste the first bar (highlight it;
then type CONTROL + V). Move it to the right
so it snaps into the space to the right
of the second gridline.

You now have 2 bars.

You can either clip and paste each of the
remaining 4 bars (remember to move the gridline
to ensure equal spacing),


Highlight both bars. Type CONTROL+V.
Now you have 2 sets of 2 bars (4).
Move the new set to the right of the first set.

Again, type CONTROL+V and yet a third set
of 2 bars appears. Move them into position.

You're ready to make 3D boxes and add color.

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Add 3D and color.

Color each bar: Highlight a bar.
From the Drawing tool bar (below),
click the FILL bucket icon. Select a color.

Add 3D: Also on the Drawing tool bar, you'll find
the 3D icon (red arrow). Experiment with the options until you get the best look.

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Resize and add data.

Resize each bar by clicking each box
and pulling it up or down.

To add data values: Highlight the bar.
Place the cursor inside the box and type the data.
(By default, it appears in the center of the box.)

Use the text features to change font and size.

To align the values: Double-click all bars
to bring up the Format Auto Shape box (red arrow). Click the Text Box tab, and change the Text anchor
point to TOP.

Adjust the appearance by changing the 4 Internal Margin Settings. Usually a .1 setting works well for centered data. Or you can use the line settings
under the Format menu > Line spacing.

Animate the bars as a group.
Highlight all 6 bars (hold down the SHIFT key;
then click each bar). From the Custom Animation menu, pick an Effect (wipes and stretches
work best for bars).

Click here for more text animation tips.

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Copyright 2010 | Steve Toms