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Excel Chart Templates

Cylinder-chartYesterday was ILS monthly reports day. Today the focus is on analyzing network traffic statistics. Excel, Excel, Excel... oh, how I love to hate you sometimes.

Still, it's not all bad. Recently I learned a shortcut for complex chart formatting. If you've ever wrestled with Excel chart formats, you know that it can take some fussing around to get everything just the way you want it. If you do this sort of thing frequently, here is how to make life easy.

  1. If you've already got a completed chart that is just the way you want it, simply open that file. Otherwise, go through all of the fussy steps to create and fine tune your perfect chart.
  2. Select your chart by clicking on it.
  3. On the Design tab of the Excel control ribbon, choose Save as Template.
  4. Give your template a descriptive name. Do not change the default save location (Microsoft\Templates\Charts).
The next time you have similar data and a similar charting need, you can easily re-use your preferred formatting from the template.
  1. Select the data to be charted.
  2. On the Insert tab of the Excel control ribbon, choose Other Charts.
  3. Choose All Chart Types...
  4. Open the Templates folder within the dialog that opens.
  5. Find and double click your saved template.

Unfortunately, your template file names don't show by default, and the icons that do show aren't using your carefully selected colors or symbols. If you have only the one template file, it'll be obvious which to choose. If you have several templates you can hover your mouse cursor over any icon and its name will be shown.

If you want to make this shortcut even shorter (you know you do), try this. While you are creating or applying the template, click the button Set as Default Chart. After that, your next chart can be this easy:

  1. Select the data to be charted.
  2. Choose Insert => Other Charts.
  3. Choose All Chart Types...
  4. Your favorite template will be pre-selected. Click OK.

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