Radar charts may be one of the most underused features in Excel 2007 - mostly because people aren't sure what type of information these charts depict. In this Excel tutorial, we'll explain more about radar charts and give an example of their usage.
What is a Radar Chart?
A radar chart is a special type of graph on which you can plot several fields, each one on its own axis. These charts are also referred to as spider charts because the plot area often resembles a web-like structure.
Many people shy away from radar charts because if the intended audience isn't used to seeing material presented in this format, it can be hard to interpret. That is, the great majority of people are more used to seeing other common Excel graphs, such as column charts and pie charts. However, if you want to demonstrate how a collection of data is changing in multiple ways, a radar chart can be an excellent tool.
As an example, in the radar chart shown to the right (click any image in this article for a larger view), our data consists of average monthly precipitation values for four different cities. The radar chart shows us two things – how precipitation levels change from month to month for each given city and how each city compares to the other three.
Types of Radar Charts in Excel 2007
In Excel 2007, there are three basic predesigned radar chart templates. These charts can be accessed by going to the Insert tab on the Excel ribbon, clicking Other Charts and then selecting one of the three options under Radar.
If you have Excel ScreenTips turned on, hovering over each of these options will give you the name of each chart and a brief description. Here is an explanation of each one along with a sample graph.
Radar – This is the most basic radar chart. It plots the values in the data set and connects each sequential point with a line segment. The points themselves, however, are not specially marked and do not stand out.
Radar with Markers – This radar chart is basically the same as above, but all of the individual data points are marked, making them easily identifiable by the viewer.
Filled Radar – This radar chart is also similar to the first on the list with the only difference being that the area inside the joined path is shaded in for each category plotted.
As with any other chart type in Excel, different data collections may look better or worse depending on which of these options you choose. However, you can always switch back and forth between various selections until you find one that's both visually appealing and represents your data accurately.
For more tips and tricks, be sure to browse through the other Excel chart tutorials found here on Bright Hub's Windows Channel. New and updated items are added on a regular basis, so bookmark us and check back often.