Ms. Compy Fix-It: Excel Graphs With Strangely Spaced Charts

Hi there!  Ms. Compy Fix-It here, with another remedied Excel “issue.”

My use of quotes is intentional.  In truth, Excel is not at fault (for once), but it can certainly throw a person for a loop!

Have you ever decided to run a pivot chart, but no matter what you do, you can’t get the bars to space themselves evenly?

This happened to me today when I was testing out a dashboard I was making for a manager to use.  It was making me increasingly annoyed until I finally sought the answer from Google.  But it was no use!  My searches were returning results from Excel tips to the suggestion that I’d somehow grouped two worksheets together….. no luck.  I had to figure this one out myself.

Thankfully, the hair-pulling episode was quicker than anticipated, and involved trying to create a new Chart Type.  As soon as I selected Stacked Column instead of the standard Clustered Column, the spacing issue was fixed.  So, that made me ask myself what was different about that type of chart – and I realized the ‘extra spacing’ between the bars in my chart were actually placeholders – for data that just didn’t exist in my testing entries.  Picture this: I had Resources, and Task Statuses.  Excel’s Clustered Column chart type defined specific placeholder for each of the Task Statuses, so while I may have entered a test entry that Anthony’s task was In Progress, and Amber’s task was Completed, I hadn’t entered that Anthony also had a task that was Completed.  So the placeholder for Completed for Anthony was empty, mimicking a spacing issue (see below).

Excel Charts Spacing2
Well, that looks awkward, now doesn’t it?

But once the data fills in, each ‘space’ allotted for a Task Status will fill up, and only when they each have a data point will it look evenly spaced (see below).


I realized the clustered column wasn’t what I wanted to use anyway (not for a workload assessment!) but I thought I’d better post my findings here in case there’s someone out there getting as frustrated as I was, simply because there is not enough sample data to show the cause as clearly.


Actually, three Excel issues plagued me today.  This one I was able to resolve, but the other two I will ask for your help as part of the greater Excel community out there:

  1. At one point when I was working with my pivot chart, I was no longer able to select the chart itself.  As in, when I clicked inside the empty space within the chart, instead of selecting the chart (enabling me to move it) it selected the cells behind the chart.  I was able to select individual parts of the chart – axis, title, etc. – but not the chart itself….. it simply could not be moved!  This was such a pain, and I hadn’t invested too much time into the file, I just copied and pasted into another new spreadsheet and re-ran the pivot chart and it was fine.  But it was very disturbing – I couldn’t drag and drop the chart to move it out of the way, and I couldn’t even right-click to see options for it!
  2. After I had copied and pasted my data from the first sheet to the new sheet, a table that was pasted included a border that I wanted to remove – but couldn’t.  I would select the data, click No Border, and it would only remove the bottom border, leaving the sides and top in tact.  When viewing the Format Cells menu of the selection, then Border, it only recognized that the bottom border was there – it didn’t recognize the sides and top!  I tried selecting individual cells and removing the border, also to no avail.  I eventually just highlighted the selection, went under the Editing tab, and Clear Formats removed it (and the rest of the formatting which I just had to re-do).  Still perplexing me what this was all about!

So, my dearest reader!  If you happen to know or have a suspicion about what caused either of the two situations above please write me in the comments section.  Or if you have had any similar experience, please let me know – you never know what additional details may lead to solving an Excel mystery!

Respectfully submitted,
Ms. Compy Fix-It  :)

Blue Jays Mashup Pics I’ve Made

Please note: These are done all in good fun. As you may guess, I’m a huge Jays fan. If you are the owner of the original pictures and would like me to remove my mashup version please let me know. All that said, hope you enjoy!!






And my crowning jewel….. This took probably about 5 hours and I wasn’t sure how it’d turn out….. Went to bed at 3 when I was done!! Click on this to view larger, quite a lot of detail in there, and 10 of the current Jays’ roster (sorry to those I had to leave out ;))


Ms. Compy Fix-It Fixes Microsoft Outlook’s Meeting-Hoarding Problem

Howdy world!

Ms. Compy Fix-It here, and I’m in a great mood.  I managed to resolve an issue I encountered yesterday which has been bugging me since.  That’s a long time for me to be perplexed.  :)

Without further ado, my issue was this:

  • I go to send a meeting invite in Microsoft Outlook 2007, and it gets stuck in my Outbox
  • I could send e-mail just fine
  • Timestamps showed under the Sent column in the Outbox for regular e-mail, but the meeting invites just showed “None“, indicating I could wait all I wanted but it had no intention of sending……
  • Neither time, nor restarting, nor re-opening and re-sending, could make these meeting invites get out of my Outbox
  • I went to cancel the meeting invite, and the cancellation got sent to the invitees! (How random….. and awkward)
  • Even deleting the meeting would send the cancellation notice to the invitees
  • This occurred several times as I tried different things…… causing frustration and embarrassment as I’m sure it looked like I was insane (“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – good ol’ Einstein)

I researched.  And researched.  And pondered.  And researched again.

And then I found a clue.  On a few sites, they’d mentioned a Norton Antivirus add-in was the cause of their troubles, but I don’t have Norton so I knew that couldn’t be it.  But one site mentioned:

Tip 1116: Meeting invitations are stuck in the Outbox | Outlook Tips
More Information
If you are having a problem with your mail not sending but aren’t using Norton Antispam, check your add-ins. Other antivirus and antispan add-ins, as well as iCloud, have been known to cause problems sending Outlook items.

Hmmmm…….. well I first had to search how to get to my add-ins – they’re not something I play around with too much.  From Outlook’s own Help file (Wait, what?  You mean it was actually helpful?  It’s a miracle!):

Enable or disable add-ins in Office programs
On the Tools menu, click Trust Center, and then click Add-ins.

Great, easy enough.  So I get a list of my add-ins and realize – I recently downloaded Evernote for Windows!  I’m not sure why it took me so long to remember that, but I suspect frustration blindness had taken over.  ;)  Anywho, I disabled the two Evernote add-ins, and voilà!  It works again.  So be aware that if you’re suddenly running into an issue of Outlook sending e-mails but not your meeting invites, check your add-ins!

Ms. Compy Fix-It  :)

On Learning Spanish

I have a story about learning Spanish…..

I took a couple Spanish courses in high school and enjoyed it, so when I went to uni for languages, I took a bunch more. I was to the point where I could have decent conversations in the classroom, and could understand a fair bit.
One year my parents and I are in a Florida supermarket. My mom is searching for her butter-like margarine that will melt when she puts it on toast. Now if you knew my mom, you’d know this was very important to her….. :-D  So I go to ask the guy stocking the shelves, but he indicates he only speaks Spanish. So, being the educated lady I am, I start to speak Spanish with him. The only problem was, I didn’t know how to say “butter”. It had never come up in my school teachings about El Cid or Spain or any other normal topic taught in Spanish courses. To make matters worse, I also didn’t know the word for toast, or melt.
What I did know was the words for ‘hot bread’ and a heckuva lot of hand gestures.
The poor stock clerk had no idea what I was talking about and soon, he had a couple coworkers trying to understand me and my crazy-talk, and finally he beckoned his English-speaking boss over, who recommended a kind to my ever-persistent mother.

For that reason, I will never forget the Spanish word for butter ever again: mantequilla :-D