Microsoft Excel

Area charts

Think of an area chart as a line chart in which the area below the line has been colored in. An area chart is very similar to a line chart. The difference is that the space between the line and the bottom (category) axis is completely filled in. Because of this difference, the area chart tends to emphasize the sheer magnitude of values rather than their change over time.

Area charts exist in all the same flavors as line charts, including stacked and 100% stacked. You can also use subtypes that have a 3-D effect, or you can create a true 3-D chart that layers the series behind one another.

Doughnut charts

A doughnut chart is similar to a pie chart, with two exceptions: It has a hole in the middle, and it can display more than one series of data. Doughnut charts are listed in the Other Charts category.

The donut chart is actually an advanced variation on that other classic food-themed chart, the pie chart. But while a pie chart can accommodate only one series of data, the donut can hold as many series as you want. Each series is contained in a separate ring. The rings are one inside the other, so they all fit into a single compact circle.

The donut chart's ideal for comparing the breakdown of two different sets of data. However, the data on the outside ring tends to become emphasized, so make sure this series is the most important.

Donuts have two subtypes: standard and exploded. (An exploded donut doesn't suggest a guilty snack that's met an untimely demise. Instead, it's a donut chart where the pieces in the topmost ring are slightly separated.)

Although the donut chart can hold as many series as you want, if you add more than two or three, the chart may appear overly complicated. No matter what you do, the center of the donut never gets filled in (unless you decide to add some text there using Excel's drawing tools.