How to Widen Bars in Excel 2007

by Jenny Hansen
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The most commonly-used types of Excel charts are bar and column charts. These two types of charts come in an array of styles, including 2-D and 3-D. There are also several column types, allowing you to change bars to cones or to stack the data series on top of each other. Regardless of style and type, one of the ways to make your chart's data stand out is to widen or narrow the bars.

To Create a Chart

Click the Insert tab and select your preferred chart type from the Chart grouping. Column charts have bars that rise vertically from the category axis, whereas a Bar chart's bars extend horizontally to the right from the category axis. When choosing chart type, you can choose 2-D, 3-D, Cylinder, Cone or Pyramid. Charts inserted using the Insert tab are automatically created as an object on the current sheet.

Changing Chart Elements

To make changes to a chart, first click anywhere in the chart area to make it active. This displays the Chart Tools area on the right side of the menu bar. The Layout tab allows you to toggle various chart elements on and off as well as make choices about elements such as Data Labels, which show the value of each data point (bar), or the Data Table, which is a small table of all the chart's data located directly beneath the chart. This is also where you can toggle the chart's legend on or off. The Format tab contains choices of various color or shape effects for each chart element. When you click on an area of the chart, the name of it displays in the upper left of the Format tab in the Current Selection Grouping. The Format Selection button directly below allows you to dig deeper into formatting.

Using the Format Selection Dialog Box

The Format Selection dialog box is a "one-stop shop" for changing any selected chart element. It is accessible from both the Chart Tools area on the Ribbon and from the right-click shortcut menu. When right-clicking, the name of the dialog box reflects the selected item. There are seven possible sub-areas in the Format Selection dialog box: Series Options, Shape, Fill, Border Colors, Border Styles, Shadow and 3-D Format. Options like Shape are not available in the 2-D chart types, but are present if you change the chart type to 3-D.

Change the Width of Bars in Excel Charts

The Series Options area of the Format Data Series dialog box controls Bar Width. Gap Width controls the space between bars. There needs to be a certain amount of space in order to differentiate categories. Decreasing the Gap Width by moving the slider increases the width of the bars. Conversely, increasing the Gap Width narrows them.

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