Professional looking charts for your spreadsheets

Rows and rows of dry data can look dull and be difficult to navigate and analyse. With Excel 2010, you're just a click away from a professional looking choice of graphs (called charts). These graphics are a godsend for making presentations more interesting and helping explain complex data.

To begin, ensure that your data is neatly lined up and labelled in rows and columns. Select the data you want to include in your chart.

Once your data is selected, click the Insert tab. In the ribbon, you will see the Charts group, click on the chart type that you would like to see in your spreadsheet. That's it! A chart will appear. In most cases, Excel's default choices are suitable. If not, they can be changed.

If you include row and column descriptions in your original data selection, these will appear beside the vertical and horizontal edges, called axis, of the chart. These descriptive labels are called titles in Excel.

Add your company logo or a picture to the chart by selecting it (click inside the chart area, and an additional grey border will appear), then clicking the Insert tab, followed by Picture. A window will appear, inviting you to browse for a picture stored on your PC. If you know the name of the image file, you can use the File name box to find and insert the picture. Your chosen picture will appear inside the chart box.

Change the size of the picture by clicking and dragging the small boxes or circles at its edges. To keep the original proportions of the picture, click and drag any of the corner circles. To move the picture, click on it until a four-direction arrow appears. Click your mouse and drag it across the page to move the picture to the place you want it, and then let go of the mouse button. Whilst the picture is selected, the Picture Tools tab will appear at the top of the window, offering various ways to edit your picture.

Adding charts to Excel 2010 spreadsheets is surprisingly straightforward and reaps rewards in the form of a clearer presentation of data, more exciting visuals and more easily understood information. Many different types of charts can be chosen and all of them can be customised to suit your needs.