Making Sure that Data Accompanies a Chart

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 14, 2020)

In Jose's school he asks students to submit Excel charts. Many times, they submit completed charts that, when Jose opens them, are blank. He gets a message that the link to the chart's data has been broken. Jose wonders what he should include in his instructions to the students that will ensure he receives a chart that is tied to the data they have used and that will display as it should.

There are multiple answers that can be provided to this question. Largely, the correct answer will depend on what you want to receive from the student. For instance, if you only want to see the chart, then you could instruct the students to capture a picture of the chart and paste that picture into a new workbook or even into a Word document. (You would, of course, need to provide instructions on how to do the capturing and pasting.)

If, however, you need to see the data on which the chart is based, then the easiest approach is to tell the students to make sure the chart is embedded in the worksheet that contains the data on which it is based. (Charts can be created either as an embedded object or as an entire chart sheet. You want them to do the former, not the latter.) Then the students can send you the single worksheet that contains both the data and the chart. If you, at that point, need to see the chart larger, you can easily convert it to an entire chart sheet.

If you want the students to submit the chart on its own sheet, then your instructions should clearly point out that whatever they submit must contain two sheets—the chart sheet and the worksheet on which the chart is based.

Of course, if the chart is based on data in a worksheet that is in a different workbook (perhaps a workbook that you provided to the student), then they will need to know how to copy the worksheet from that external workbook to the workbook in which they created the chart.

It may be a good idea to suggest to the student that once he or she has created the workbook they want to submit, they should get out of Excel and restart the program to open the submission workbook. If they get errors, then they can correct them before actually submitting the workbook to you.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (13799) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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