Turning a Chart into a Graphic

In the old days when spreadsheets were driven by steam we would happily copy and paste charts from Excel into Word and PowerPoint and worry sometimes that they didn’t look that good. The worry was partly that MS Office is not always as smart as it pretends when taking one element of a spreadsheet or page to another MS application.

So you prepare your chart and drop it into a Word file and resize it … bad idea! Everything can change: the bars or lines change, the font changes size and the thing can get very messy.

More than that, there are times when you don’t want that oaf in the next office who thinks he’s an Office genius to “improve” your chart in any way. After all, your chart complies with corporate communications policies and so on. The oaf thinks that pink and orange together with blue and green are fantastic colour combinations!

So for at least two reasons you might want to turn your chart into a graphic that cannot easily be changed and that will look good in an application other than Excel.

Old Fashioned Way

I just read a blog that recommends a pre Excel 2003 solution even though there is a brilliant solution in Excel 2003 … 2007 … 2010: the camera tool!

The blog says: create your chart then copy it and paste it into a graphics package and save it, making any changes or enhancements you like. Well, OK, but why would you want to start opening yet another application when Excel can do everything for you with the Camera Tool?

The Camera Tool

Firstly, put the camera tool on the QAT (the Quick Access Toolbar) at the top left of your screen if it’s not already there:

For Excel 2007

  • Office button
  • Options
  • Customise ribbon
  • Choose commands from: Commands Not in the Ribbon
  • Scroll down and select Camera
  • Click Add
  • OK

For Excel 2010

  • Office button
  • Options
  • Quick Access Toolbar
  • Scroll down and select Camera
  • Click Add
  • OK

Now you should see the camera icon in the QAT and you can use it as follows, having already prepared your embedded chart:

  • Select the area behind your chart
  • Click the camera tool icon
  • Click on your worksheet where you want you graphic to appear
  • Done!

You’ve now got a graphical copy of your chart and you can copy and paste it to your heart’s content. But there’s more!

Change your new Camera Tool Created Chart

Make a change to some of your data and watch what happens to the camera tool graphic … it changes too.

  • Change a title on your chart
  • Choose a different design for your chart
  • Don’t move your original chart though … try it and see why!

The camera tool essentially creates a video of your chart so that whatever happens to it, the camera tool version will be updated

In addition to pasting your new graphic in Word or PowerPoint or elsewhere, you can paste your camera tool chart anywhere in your Excel workbook or file, even on another sheet. More than that, you can monitor how you chart is changing: this is brilliant if, for example, your chart starts in cell BZ10000 where it’s very difficult to access … now you can take a photo of it and put it where you like.

Security Aspects

The camera tool helps with security too: you can see it change but you can’t interfere with the original chart by changing the camera tool version.