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Make 3D Columns Semi-Transparent for Charts in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows

Learn how to add semi-transparency to columns of 3D charts in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows. Semi-transparent columns allow you to see other columns that may be hidden.


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Product/Version: PowerPoint 2013 for Windows

OS: Microsoft Windows 7 and higher



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It's good to avoid using 3D charts unless your chart data requires a Z-axis. Having said that, we have chosen the topic of making your 3D columns in a chart transparent. Yes, there's a reason to do so especially when you find that some of the columns in your 3D chart may be hiding behind one or more of the other columns, just because they are not tall enough. Look at the chart shown in Figure 1. Notice that one of the grey columns (category 1, series 3) is almost hidden.

One of the Series 3 columns is completely hidden
Figure 1: One of the Series 3 columns is completely hidden

Continuing our observation, we need to find a way to make the mostly hidden grey column visible! One easy solution for this problem is to reduce the opacity of the columns in the front. Follow these steps to learn more about how to make 3D columns transparent for charts in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows:

  1. Start by selecting the series which is hiding the column. We selected the series represented by the blue columns. Thereafter, right-click to bring up the contextual menu, you see in Figure 2. Choose the Format Data Series option. If you do not get the Format Data Series option in the contextual menu, you may have right-clicked on another chart element. Make sure you then deselect anything in the chart, and then right-click on the required Data Series.
  2.  Format Data Series option selected
    Figure 2: Format Data Series option selected
  3. This brings up the Format Data Series Task Pane that you see in Figure 3. Make sure that the Fill & Line button is clicked upon, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 3, below. Then, select the Fill option. You can see that the default Fill type is Automatic, which is indicated by the selected status of radio button in front of it, as shown highlighted in blue within Figure 3.
  4. Format Data Series Task Pane
    Figure 3: Format Data Series Task Pane
  5. As you can see in Figure 3, above, there is no Transparency slider within the Format Data Series Task Pane! This is because the fill color is set to Automatic, as shown highlighted in blue within Figure 3, above. To change the fill transparency, click on the Solid fill radio button, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 4. This brings up the Transparency slider as shown highlighted in blue within Figure 4.
  6. Transparency slider now visible
    Figure 4: Transparency slider now visible
  7. Now set a transparency value as required. In Figure 5, you can see that we set the transparency to 30%.
  8. Data Series transparency set to 30%
    Figure 5: Data Series transparency set to 30%
  9. Tip: We explain transparency for solid fills in this tutorial. However if your 3D column is filled with a gradient, a picture, or some other shape fill, you can still change the transparency for that fill type. Refer to our Transparency for Shape Fills in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows tutorial. Even though that tutorial is about shape fills, the same techniques work for Data Series fills within charts.
  10. This makes the selected Series semi-transparent as shown in Figure 6.
  11. Columns of Series 1 made semi-transparent
    Figure 6: Columns of Series 1 made semi-transparent
  12. Similarly, you can change the transparency of columns representing other series. In Figure 7 you can see that we have changed the transparency of Series 1 and 2 so that all columns partially hidden behind them are also visible.
  13. Reducing the fill opacity of columns has made the hidden chart elements visible
    Figure 7: Reducing the fill opacity of columns has made the hidden chart elements visible
  14. Compare the charts in Figures 7 and 1. You can see that in Figure 7 the columns of Series 3 which were partially hidden earlier, are visible through the semi-transparent columns.
  15. Save your presentation often.

See Also:

3D Charts: Make 3D Columns Semi-Transparent for Charts (Glossary Page)

Make 3D Columns Semi-Transparent for Charts in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac

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