Ms. Compy Fix-It is Back! With an Excel 2007 Data Labels Workaround

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)
excel Example Pic 3.1
“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:

  1. expand the Whole Chart area until your data label is as wide as you’d like
  2. shrink the Inner Chart area until your chart is the size you’d like
  3. 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)
  4. move around your axis label and title, as they’ll no longer be centred
  5. 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!

excel Example Pic 5

Has this helped solve your problem?  Let me know in the comments!  🙂


Ms. Compy Fix-It’s PowerPoint Oddity

Hi, it’s Ms. Compy Fix-It again.

About a week ago, I discovered an oddity in PowerPoint 2007. I received a file from my boss that I was to work on that had many text boxes with bulleted points in them. Sometimes when I would hit Enter to get a new bullet, and tab to make it a sub-bullet, when I went to type, it shifted me to a blue-background off-screen, where my typing was now one letter per line, typing vertically. I have no idea what made it do this, but my traditional methods of fixing it (format painting from a text box that was working; backspacing and trying again; backspacing, deleting, and trying again; moving the tab stop over manually; removing all formatting; clearing all indents; centering, then re-left-justified-ing to reset the paragraph format; creating a new text box and copy-pasting the current text and trying again…..) ….. did not work.

My boss has acknowledged she is not great with computers, but I find it hard to believe she did this — it seems more like an incompatibility of something to me. It’s possible she was using a file from one of the partners who have Macs.

Does this sound familiar to anyone? Does anyone know how to fix it without just creating a brand new text box and re-writing the text?