June 15, 2011, 5:26 p.m.
posted by tactics
It would be great if Excel always knew exactly what you wanted and gave you a perfect chart on the first try. Unfortunately, although the program is intelligent, it is not clairvoyant. One of the things it might get wrong on occasion has to do with the assignment of series and data points. For example, suppose you want to plot the following table as a simple two-dimensional column chart:
If you follow the steps described a few paragraphs ago, Excel gives you this:
That is, it plots each yearly column in the source range as a data series consisting of two points, Indiana and Washington. If what you actually wanted was two series, Indiana and Washington, each consisting of eight yearly data points, there's an easy fix. Click anywhere in the chart, make sure the Design tab is selected on the Ribbon, and then click Switch Row/Column. Excel flips the chart: