Compare two sets of Excel chart data using transparent columns

You may only have room on your desktop for one Excel chart, so how do you assess two charts without printing them both out? Learn how to make your charts transparent for easy data comparison.

It's difficult to compare two sets of data in an Excel chart when one data series almost totally obscures the other. For example, let's say you create a bar chart comparing monthly sales for one subsidiary against monthly sales for the entire company. You click the data series for the subsidiary sales, click the Change Chart Type button, and select Area -- it is now almost covered by the bars representing the company sales. To make the bars transparent, follow these steps:

1. Create a rectangular AutoShape in a blank area of the worksheet.

2. Right-click the rectangle and select Format AutoShape.

3. Select a fill color.

4. Enter 58% in the Transparency box.

5. Click the Line Color box and select No Line, and then click OK.

6. With the Autoshape selected, press [Shift] and click the Edit menu.

7. Click Copy Picture.

8. Click OK.

9. Click any bar to select the bar series in the chart.

10. Go to Edit | Paste.

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