If you have the latest version of Microsoft Excel, you might have noticed that the appearance of its charts have improved dramatically compared to the Windows 95-style graphics from older versions of the program. Indeed, it's hard to take a chart seriously when its malformed legend is juxtaposed on top of a battleship grey background. You can fix your charts by buying Excel 2010. Or you can clean up your charts with the version of Excel you already have, for free.
CleanCharts is a free add-on for Excel that comes from JuiceAnalysis. It's not new; I just learned about this tool recently from Business Hacks reader Justin W, but it has apparently been around since the second term of the Bush Administration. Regardless of age, it does a bang-up job.
After you install Clean Charts, you can run the add-in at any time to overhaul your charts with a a sngle click. Here's the sort of stuff that CleanCharts can do:
- Removes the light grey background (referred to CleanCharts as "chart junk."
- Reformats the chart's axes for improved readability.
- Optimizes colors for better contrast and readability.
- Removes 3D effects, since JuiceAnalysis claims that 3D "introduce distortions that make it hard for people to understand your numbers."
- Fixes scaling problems.
- Fixes the size of elements in the chart to make them readable if you resize it.