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).

Voila!
Voila!

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  🙂

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Day 3

Gorgeous day today.  It started off cloudy (my dad and I were going to go fishing but since it was cloudy, they decided to let me sleep in instead haha), but it was still fairly warm, and then the sun worked its way out and it became quite warm.  We went and did a few errands while it was still a bit overcast, and my mom and I played some tennis.  The sun came out during our 15 minutes (we’re both still coughing up a storm), so my mom decided it was too hot out for her and walked to the library to reserve the new Sue Grafton book.  (She later told me she was 123rd on the reserve list….. I’m not even kidding.)  So I went and hit against the wall…… man, it was relentless.  (joke courtesy of Mitch Hedberg 😉 )  I love hitting against the wall though.  I can serve and not have to go pick up balls for every minute of serving, if I make a mistake it still comes back to me….. it’s just a good practice tool.  I did that for a bit, then we went back to the condo for lunch.  I went for a long walk along the Pass, well, many trips back and forth anyway.  Then I visited Julio at his crêperie and chatted a bit with him.  He’s still the one making the crêpes….. I don’t know how he’s managed all year, unless there is someone else trained and they just weren’t working.  I have a feeling the guy with him helping him prepare the stuff may have been there last year too.  I’d normally wonder if they were related but by the pale (in comparison) looks of him, maybe not!  The crêpe — strawberries and Nutella — was wonderful.  I wandered the Pass eating it, and saw many eyes drawn to it — one hispanic lady asked me what it was and where to find one….. after I’d passed I heard her say, “I want one of those!”  So Julio, there you go, some more business for ya!  Last year it was the same story — we’d walk around eating them, and would usually get stopped at some point with inquiries….. especially if my parents were also having one, because they’d usually have one with whipped cream which of course makes it look even more sumptuous.  I even got to hear Julio singing a little as he prepared it….. quite the lungs, and not a bad singer either!  Elvis, of course 😉   After he’d finished making the crêpe, he thanked me for coming back and wished me a good trip if he didn’t see me before then, at one point calling me “princess” — which, from anyone else, might’ve been seen as strange or even sarcastic, but you just know he’s sincere.  He’s just the type of person who always makes you smile.    🙂

  After finishing my treat, I walked the beach for a bit, through the water one way, then on the water’s edge the way back.  Here’s my daily list:

  • Maddy! and friend(?)
  • fishermen
  • fisherboys(?) with a net of little fishies they’d just caught, intending to use them as bait
  • 2 whistling construction workers 😎
  • again, not too many shells of interest (there haven’t been high winds lately, so that makes a difference)
  • a few butterfly shells appearing to be occupied (thrown back)
  • several sand fleas (dead)
  • 1 large crab — live!  He was in my path, scuttling around….. man was he cute.  I walked cautiously closer, and I guess frightened him because he lifted one of his front claws a bit above his head, threateningly….. it was hilarious and adorable at the same time.  I love crabs.  Anyway, I didn’t want to scare him too much but at the same time I didn’t want him to wash ashore and die (he appeared to be old….. I am aware they can come out the water normally haha), or stay in the shallow water to attack/get attacked by little kids, so I tried to usher him back towards the deeper water, even though the waves made me lose sight of him and I had to avoid getting pinched, myself!  He was definitely the highlight of my beachwalk.
  • 2 kids trying to bodyboard (again, waves <1 foot high…..)….. quite funny actually.
  • seagulls, herons, egrets, pelicans, skimmers, the little tiny birds that run around the shore…..
  • dolphins (well, that was when I was on the Pass — they were quite active today, almost jumping right out the water, splashing around playfully)….. actually I saw a few schools of them….. and moronic seadoers trying to get close and in the process frightening them away……  Seriously, let this be my one and only message to boaters: if you want to get close to dolphins or any sea creature for that matter, PLEASE turn off your engines!  If they want you around, they’ll swim TO you, you don’t have to be 5 feet away at all times.  Enjoy the scene, but don’t ruin it by scaring them or, Heaven forbid, hurting them.  Sure, you may have seen them following boats, but that’s up to them!  You certainly are not going to tempt them by having 5 boats speeding toward them every time they surface.  The people on the Pass enjoy seeing them too, so have a little respect for the other viewers, as well as the creatures themselves.  There.  I’m done.    😛
  • not many jellyfish today, maybe 2 little guys washed up
  • generally not much debris washed up either, actually….. good thing once in a while!
  • 1 gorgeous sun  🙂

Day 1, Part Deux

Things on the beach, round 2:

  • butterfly shell guys digging in the sand
  • a turtle made of sand, complete with a seaweed toupée and a water bottle
  • another sand flea (actual creature, not flea made from sand haha)
  • 1 sea urchin
  • 1 fish head (please don’t let the song get in my head…..)
  • 1 couple stopping for a lil’ make-out session (don’t see that often….. mostly families, but even couples don’t usually do much of the PDA stuff, not that it’s a problem or anything haha, just unusual hence its inclusion on the list!)
  • 1 creep-o-zoid (plus, being bald with a sunburnt face is a strange look, folks….. just FYI 😉 haha)
  • 1 school of fishies
  • 1 gorgeous sun

What the Night Brings

It occurs to me that not a lot of people pull all-nighters.  I find it, well, good I guess.  They’re sometimes enjoyable…… but they have their moments.  Like, tonight, I stayed up (well I’m still up), and was working (the not-so-fun kind of all-nighters), but I luckily caught up on my junk so that makes me feel good.  However, I had a few fun experiences with my body hating me.  Here are a couple things that may happen to you if you pull an all-nighter, and you shouldn’t be surprised if they do:

  • shaking.  Just general shaking in different parts of your body.  Tonight it was my left hand.
  • weird popping feeling in your eye.  I don’t know what this is.
  • random numbness, usually from sitting at a computer for long periods of time banging my head against the desk.
  • dehydration.  It’s easy to forget to drink when you can barely remember to open your eyes.  (Also comes in the opposite form, when you’re obsessively drinking something to try and keep yourself awake.)
  • hunger from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m.
  • random activity cravings.  Like suddenly wanting to go swimming, even though you haven’t in months.
  • random food cravings.  Like clam chowder.
  • sudden understanding of your pet.  It’s like we’re at the same intelligence level…..
  • sudden ability to clean.  You might not have been the best before, but you’re Industrial Strength now……
  • sudden memory recovery…… of all the e-mails you haven’t yet replied to.  Don’t be alarmed if you feel this crucial to complete immediately.  It’s normal.
  • chest pains.  Yep!  Just as fun as they sound!
  • waking up when you didn’t know you were asleep.  The best is when you’re holding something like a hair dryer or book, because you freak out when you wake up and you freak out again as you drop something.  (Bonus: when you’re on the bus, and you wake up with a jolt, having flung your arms wildly, only to get strange looks from the people around you/people you hit)
  • brain pains.  You know how diagrams show the different sections of your brain and what they’re used for?  Well you just exploded the Common Sense one.  Congratulations!  You’re now among the other 90% of the population.  😛

I hope you’ve learned your lesson, because I sure haven’t…… Umm, what am I talking about again?  I should go.  I think I have an e-mail to write.  It’s for my cat.