Today I encountered a really annoying problem in Excel. In switching between open files, suddenly some of my dates were converted to numbers. September 3rd, 2014, became 41885, and all my columns expanded. I knew I’d hit something by accident, but no amount of Undo would fix it, and even changing the column’s Number Format to Date didn’t make them appear as dates!
Turns out, I had accidentally hit Ctrl + ` instead of Ctrl + Tab to shift between open Excel files. This turns on Show Formulas! So simple, yet it took me a good few minutes to figure it out. So if you’ve searched for this issue and found this post, Ms. Compy Fix-it is here to tell you you’re not alone!
So, if you find your columns unexpectedly expanding, and weird things happening to your data, check to make sure you haven’t accidentally turned on Show Formulas!
Hi everybody! (“Hi, Dr. Nick!”)
Ms. Compy Fix-It here, with another workaround for all you folks wrestling with Excel 2007’s quirks. This one is to do with Excel ignoring your pretty horizontal axis and deciding to do its own thing……
So let’s start off with my chart:
This looks okay to me. But say I’d done some resizing within my Whole Chart Area and things have moved around a bit.
Whoops, that looks ugly! The horizontal axis label’s on top of the legend and we can’t have that. So, I’m going to resize the Inner Chart Area to move it up, right? Well watch what happens.
Wait, since when did my data become negative?
I initially thought it had to do with the way I resized it. I even drew a chart to figure out whether it was the Inner Chart Area or the Outer Chart Area resizing that made it a problem. Turns out the problem is partially about resizing and partially about this:
Ugh! So then I zoomed in to 100% and it fixed my chart……… but guess what? My other charts started messing up their horizontal axis-crossing data!
So…… turns out I don’t know a fool-proof method for getting rid of this quirk. However, I do know that sometimes altering the Inner Chart Area and/or the Outer Chart Area can fix it, and other times the Zoom can fix it.
If you know why this is and can help us all out, please leave a comment!
Well hello there! It’s certainly been a while. I hope everyone’s been doing well and not having too many computer struggles.
I am happy to report that I have a workaround for that annoying (and completely inexplicable) Excel 2007 quirk of not allowing chart data label resizing. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve struggled with this, so I’m very excited to share my workaround with you, even if it’s not a complete fix.
(I’m working on making 3 charts fit in a very tiny space, so forgive the use and misuse of gridlines, titles, etc.. I’ve had to pare it down to barebones 🙂 )
See how ugly they are?! Ugh! Well read on to see how to force it to use that extra space around it, like the pretty last graph.
In order to describe it properly, I’ll have to define what I mean when I say certain things:
“Whole Chart area” – the area that includes the chart, its axes, the title, and the legend (see below)
“Inner Chart area” – the area that gets selected that includes the data and not much else (see below)
So, in my struggles with this, I’ve noticed a few things:
- Excel changes the data labels when you resize the Whole Chart area
- Excel doesn’t change the data labels when you resize the Inner Chart area
- Excel will not reliably change your data label size when you increase or decrease your font size (sometimes it will even act differently from one chart to the next! I’m still trying to figure that part out…..)
So! If you want to adjust your data labels – say they’re crazy-thin like mine above:
- expand the Whole Chart area until your data label is as wide as you’d like
- shrink the Inner Chart area until your chart is the size you’d like
- select the Whole Chart area and ensure your background is “None” – as it’s now quite huge and will cover any other data you have beside it (if you wanted a nice border around your chart, you can always just draw a rectangle shape with no background and it’ll work almost as well)
- move around your axis label and title, as they’ll no longer be centred
- if you’d like the font size to be bigger/smaller, give it a try. I found the data labels I adjusted in this way were able to increase/decrease font size after as well. Who knows, maybe this frees them from their Excel-prison shackles!
Has this helped solve your problem? Let me know in the comments! 🙂