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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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?

Lookalikes!


Johnny Damon looks like a nutcracker.

No, literally, like one of those Christmas nutcrackers with the fancy red uniforms.  Think that’s weird?  Read on.


Ryan Garko looks like a Muppet (still trying to figure out which one).

Travis Hafner reminds me of Edward Kowalczyk from the band +Live+.

Jaime Pressly looks a bit like a frog — a very beautiful frog, which is odd and cool at the same time.

And best of all, I have a friend who looks across between Andy Roddick and Adam Lind!  🙂

Piña blüada

If you eat blueberries with pineapple, it tastes like piña colada.  Somehow the blueberries end up adding the coconut flavour?!

   

On second thought, maybe I’m just weird…..

     

No no — it really does taste piña colada-y!

   

Hmm, maybe I should turn my internal dialogue filter back on…..

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.