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Charts in PowerPoint - Vary Color by Point Option in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac

Author: Geetesh Bajaj

Product/Version: PowerPoint 2011
OS: Mac OS X

Date Created: January 1st 2013
Last Updated: January 1st 2013


Excerpt/Capsule: Learn how you can change the color of series when you have just one series with multiple categories in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac.






If your chart includes only one series and several categories, then by default individual chart segments will use the same fill color (such as individual columns in a column chart) or varying colors (such as segments in a pie chart), depending upon the chart type you are working with. For all charts, you can always change the color of the entire series but that works best if you have multiple series in your chart, as shown in Figure 1 (later on this page). The same is not true for a chart that has only one series -- in that case displaying all individual elements of a chart series in the same color can make your chart look dull (see Figure 2 later on this page) -- it also does not provide a proper way for your audience to compare the individual series' elements. PowerPoint 2011 lets you resolve this limitation by using the Vary color by point option -- this option uses different colors for individual series' elements. Before you proceed further, there are certain points you should be aware of -- the Vary color by point option is:

  • Not enabled by default for Column, Bar, and Line charts -- but can be turned on
  • Enabled by default for Pie and Donut charts -- but can be turned off
  • Does not work for other chart types such as Area, XY Scatter, Stock, etc.

When you insert a new chart in PowerPoint 2011, it may look like the one you see in Figure 1. As you can see, this is a column chart in which there is a set of 3 series in each of the 4 categories. The color of these 3 series represent the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Accent colors in the active Theme respectively, from left to right.

Chart in PowerPoint 2011
Figure 1: Chart in PowerPoint

The Vary color by point option works for a chart with just a single series, and two or more categories, as shown in Figure 2.

One series and four categories
Figure 2: One series and four categories

Now, follow these steps to learn how to change the color of category elements in a chart with just a single series and multiple categories:

  1. Select the data series by clicking on it (see Figure 2). Alternatively you can select the data series from the Chart elements drop-down list.

  2. With the chart series selected, select either the Chart Layout or the Format tab of the Ribbon that you can see in Figure 3. Within any of these tabs, you will find the Current Selection group towards the extreme left as you can see in Figure 3. Within this group, make sure that the Chart Elements drop-down list (highlighted in red within Figure 3) is displaying the name of the selected data series. Then, click the Format Selection button below it (highlighted in blue within Figure 3).

    Format Selection button to be clicked with the data series selected
    Figure 3: Format Selection button to be clicked with the data series selected

  3. This summons the Format Data Series dialog box. Make sure that the Fill option in the sidebar is selected. Next, select the Solid tab as shown in Figure 4. Here, you will find the Vary color by point check box (highlighted in red within Figure 4). This option appears only when there is just a single series in your selected chart.

    Format Data Series dialog box
    Figure 4: Format Data Series dialog box

  4. Select the Vary color by point check box as shown in Figure 5, and click the OK button within the Format Data Series dialog box.

    Vary color by point check box selected
    Figure 5: Vary color by point check box selected

    This will change the color of individual category elements to match the accent colors of the Theme as shown in Figure 6 (compare with Figure 2). Also compare the Legend in both Figures 2 and 6 -- you will see that this has also been updated to match the varied fills used.

    Chart Series colors changed after selecting the Vary color by point check box
    Figure 6: Chart Series colors changed after selecting the Vary color by point check box

    Note: So, how did PowerPoint decide which colors should be used as fills for the individual series' elements? If you look at Figure 1, you will notice that the multiple fill colors used are the same as those shown in Figure 6, above. As you can see, the colors of second and third series in Figure 1 have been applied to the second and third category in Figure 6. These color values are sourced from the active Theme -- apply a new Theme to your presentation and these colors will change!


  5. Save your presentation.

Note: If the selected Series of your Chart are filled with any other fill than Automatic, like a pattern, gradient, a picture or a solid color fill, then selecting the Vary color by point check box will immediately change the fill to Automatic.

See Also:

Vary Colors by Point Option for Charts in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows
Charts in PowerPoint - Vary Colors by Point Option in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows

 

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