Creating graphs and charts for reports and presentations is a very common activity, not only in the workplace, but also in schools. Fortunately, there are tools that make creating such charts from a given table of data quick and easy.
Probably one of the most popular tools comes from the Microsoft Office productivity suite. Both Word and Excel have tools for creating charts from spreadsheets. Excel is probably one of the most famous spreadsheet programs around and is used for tables of data. To generate a chart from a spreadsheet, simply highlight the range to be used as the data source, including row and column headers, and then choosing the Chart Wizard either from the toolbar or from the Insert Menu. The Wizard will then take the user through a series of options ranging from the type of chart to be used to whether the chart will plot rows or columns. Since Word is a word processing program, creating a chart involves inserting a pre-made chart and then modifying that to fit the needs and the data. Go to the Insert menu, click on the Object entry and then choose Microsoft Graph Chart as the Object Type.
Google, known for its wide variety of online applications, also has a chart-creating through its Google Spreadsheet. The mechanics of creating a chart is the same as above. Select the range of data to be used, and then select Chart from the Insert menu. A wizard appears letting the user customize the appearance and settings of the chart.
One advantage of using Google Spreadsheets over Microsoft Office is that the data and chart is available from anywhere using just a regular web browser, as long as there’s an internet connection available. However, this distinction is blurring with Microsoft Office Live as an online version of the regular Office suite and with Google Gears allowing offline usage of Google applications.