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Creating Charts Using Existing Excel Data in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac

Learn how to use already available Excel data to create charts in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac.


Product/Version: PowerPoint 2011 for Mac

OS: Mac OS X

Most of the time, you must start from scratch and then insert a new chart on your PowerPoint slide. This of course brings up Excel with some dummy data, and indeed you can type in your own data to replace this dummy data. However, what if you already have some data that's within an Excel sheet? Why can't you use that data to create your PowerPoint chart? Why does PowerPoint in fact insist that you use the new Excel sheet and not any of your existing Excel sheets? And even if you must use that new Excel sheet, where does that sheet reside? And can't you bring in your own data to that sheet in a way that does not make you type everything all over again? That's a bunch of very genuine questions! This article will attempt to provide you with some answers.

Note: The Excel sheet that opens up with dummy data has no real name or location. Even though it's an Excel file, it lives as part of the PowerPoint presentation that includes a chart. So don't try looking for that Excel sheet on your computer's folders. It just doesn't exist there!

First of all, a default chart inserted in PowerPoint 2011 may look like the one that you see in Figure 1, below.

Chart inserted in PowerPoint
Figure 1: Chart inserted in PowerPoint

All the data that works behind the scenes for any chart in PowerPoint 2011 is essentially stored in an Excel sheet, as shown in Figure 2, below. You see this Excel sheet the first time you insert a chart. Within this Excel sheet, your data will show up in rows and columns. Figure 2 below shows the Excel data for the chart that you saw in Figure 1, earlier on this page.

Dummy data for the chart
Figure 2: Dummy data for the chart

Tip: Want to bring up this Excel sheet that contains the data after your chart has already been created? Explore our Edit Chart Data in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac tutorial.

You can change the dummy data to your own values manually. Even better, you can bring in data that's already on an existing Excel sheet using this step-by-step process:

  1. Insert a new chart on your slide as shown in Figure 1, above. Thereafter make sure that the Excel sheet containing the chart's dummy data is visible, as shown in Figure 2, earlier on this page.
  2. Now, open the Excel sheet containing your data. Figure 3 shows the Excel sheet containing our actual data.

    Actual data to be used for chart
    Figure 3: Actual data to be used for chart
  3. As you can see in this case (compare Figures 2 and 3), the dummy data and the actual data are a bit different. It does not matter if the values were different. What matters is that:

    1. Our data contains four Series, the dummy data has only three Series.
    2. Our data contains five Categories, the dummy data has only four Categories.

    The above examples are just "examples". We just wanted to create a scenario where the dummy data and the actual data may have a different number of Series and Categories.

    Before we can paste in the content from our Excel sheet to the one that includes the dummy data, we need to add one extra Series as also an extra Category.
  4. Add new Categories or Series, as explained in our Adding and Deleting Chart Series and Categories tutorial. We added one extra row and one extra column, as shown in Figure 4.

    Chart Categories and Series added
    Figure 4: Chart Categories and Series added

    Conversely, if your Excel data includes fewer Series or Categories, you will need to delete that many rows / columns from the dummy data. This is again explained within our Adding and Deleting Chart Series and Categories tutorial.
  5. Once your actual data and dummy data have the same number of rows and columns, copy the actual data from your Excel sheet and paste to overwrite the dummy data, as shown within the results in Figure 5, below.

    Dummy data overwritten with actual data
    Figure 5: Dummy data overwritten with actual data

    Tip: Do you see that extra column heading named 'Column1', highlighted in red within Figure 5? This does not show up on the chart. But if it irritates you, feel free to delete this text within your Excel sheet.
  6. Now, explore your PowerPoint slide. You will see the chart on your slide reflecting the actual data. Figure 6 shows our sample chart after we copied and pasted the actual data over the dummy data (compare Figures 1 and 6).

    Chart reflecting the actual data
    Figure 6: Chart reflecting the actual data
  7. Save your presentation often.

See Also: Creating Charts Using Excel Data in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows

Jigsaw Graphics for PowerPoint

Here are 10 jigsaw graphics containing different shapes. These graphics are available in both black and white and are contained within separate sample presentations that you download. Additionally, these jigsaw graphics are vector shapes, so you can easily edit them within your Microsoft Office program by changing fills, lines, and effects or even applying Shape Styles.

Download and use these Jigsaw Graphics in your slides for just $4.99+

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