Excel 2013 offers more formatting and shape options for
displaying data labels in a chart. It also supports a dynamic data label
option. We’ll explore those options and then put them to use.

How to add data labels

First, you’ll need some data labels. You can work with most
any simple chart. (We’ll work
through a simple example with an emphasis on the features rather than
sophisticated results.
) To add data labels to an existing chart, select the
chart. Then, click the Chart Elements icon (the cross icon). In the resulting
dialog, check Data Labels. That’s it!

The data labels aren’t particularly effective in this chart.
In fact, they are intrusive and messy. For the purposes of this example, we
want to keep only one. That means we’ll need to delete a lot of data labels. To
delete them for a series, select one and press Delete. Selecting one selects
all in the same series. Go ahead and delete all of the data labels for Smith,
Jones, and Hancock.

That leaves Michaels, and we’ll keep only the Michaels data
label for the West region. Slowly click each label that you want to delete twice
(don’t use a quick double-click) and then press Delete. The first click selects
the series. The second click deletes all but the selected label from the selection.
You must delete them individually; you can’t create a multi-object selection.

The lone data label should be effective just by virtue of
being the only one. Obviously, that value has a story to tell or perhaps you
have a question to pose. But right now, it’s almost invisible. Let’s move it so
readers can see it. To move the label, select it and drag it – that part’s
easy. You can also format the value itself using the options in the Font group.
I increased the font size and changed the color to make the value stand out
among the chart’s other elements.

The value by itself will often be enough. This one could use
a bit of clarification, so let’s add some descriptive text. Position the cursor
inside the data label either before or after the actual label. Then, simply
type the text you want to display with the value and press Enter. You might want
to tweak the results a bit by forcing the text to wrap, centering the text, and
so on. Although adding text can feel a bit awkward at first, you’ll catch on
quickly. Remember, you can press [Ctrl]+z to undo changes.

That’s effective, as is, but it isn’t new – you’ve always
been able to do that. Now, let’s suppose you want to drive your point home by
listing the dismally low commission on Michaels West by displaying the
commission instead of the actual value. To return a high and low commission
value, enter the following formulas in the sheet:


Now you’re ready to display the results of those formulas in
the appropriate data label. Delete (or not, it doesn’t matter) the contents of
the Michaels West data label. With the cursor inside that data label,
right-click and choose Insert Data Label Field. In the next dialog, select
[Cell] Choose Cell. When Excel displays the source dialog, click the cell that
contains the MIN() function, and click OK. The data label now displays the
results of that formula.

Below, you can see where I’ve added a data label field to also
display the maximum commission above the appropriate column. To quickly select
a single column use the slow two-clicks selection method described above.

The labels are fine, but 2013 has one more effect you might
want to know about. You can use shapes to draw attention to labels – Excel
calls them callouts. Right-click the label, choose Change Data Label Shapes,
and then choose a shape. That’s all there is to it!

The data label fields will update as you change values in
the underlying sheet. However, they’ll still be attached to the same column. In
other words, if the low value for Michaels West is a typo and you correct it,
both formulas might return a different result. The data labels will remain in
their relative positions to their columns, but they will update to display the
new results, which in this case, might not reflect the right columns.