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What's new in Excel 2013
Part five of a seven-part series of blogs

Excel 2013 contains radical changes to charts, pivot tables and the user interface. This review explains all the new features of Excel 2013

  1. Excel 2013 - the Wise Owl Review!
  2. First Impressions - the Excel 2013 Look-and-Feel
  3. Excel 2013 changes: working with files
  4. Excel 2013 changes: pivot tables and data analysis
  5. Excel 2013 - Changes to Charts (this blog)
  6. What's new in Excel 2013 - general changes
  7. Excel 2013 - summary and recommendations

Posted by Andy Brown on 30 January 2013

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Excel 2013 - Changes to Charts

I think charts went backwards in Excel 2010, and it appears Microsoft agree, as there are more changes to charting in Excel 2013 than anything else.

Recommended charts

If you select a block of data and click on the new Recommended Charts icon on the INSERT tab of the ribbon, Excel wil suggest sensible charts to fit your data:

Recommended charts

Excel recommends a series of charts (you can scroll between them, and click on any which takes your fancy to create an embedded chart).


A good idea, although for the above chart I would have preferred to see Excel suggest a combination chart with the total plotted against a separate axis.

Quick ways to change charts

When you click on any charts, there are quick ways to add/delete parts of it, or format it:

The new chart icons

You can use these icons as shown below to customise charts quickly.


You can choose which elements of the chart should show up, and how:

Choosing chart elements

Each chart element has a custom submenu - here we're configuring the chart title.


You can quickly change the style and colour of your charts:

Changing chart style

Here we're choosing a different style for the chart.


Finally, you can change which data is being charted:

Changing chart data

You can quickly exclude certain superheroes or clothing items from your chart!


Better chart formatting

That's an understatement.  Here's an example - how to format a chart title:

Formatting chart title

The formatting task bars are now a delight to use.


Simpler chart ribbon

The Excel 2010 chart ribbons were ... pants.  They're now much simpler, being condensed into two dedicated chart tabs:

Chart tabs on ribbon

Use the DESIGN tab to change the nature of the chart, or the FORMAT tab to change its format.


New combo chart type

We've asked for it ... and Microsoft have listened!

Combo chart type

The new Combo chart type.

Better data labels

Chart data labels can now have different shapes:

Data label shapes

Fancy a call-out data label anyone?


I think this might make a chart look gimmicky:

Data labels as call-outs

Are these labels really any clearer?


Chart animations

While on the subject of gimmicks, here's a bad one.  When you change data, the chart updates using animation:

Updating chart data

Think Batman needs more masks laundering? Press ENTER ...


When you press ENTER above to confirm the new data, the chart will update:

Chart updating

The chart caught in mid-update (I had to be quick with the screen capture).

A waste of programming time, in my opinion!


The final part of this blog (before the summary and recommendations page) will look at general changes which don't fit into any of the categories I've looked at so far.

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