How to Create a Chart in Excel Using Shortcut Keys

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 If you ever need a chart in a hurry or you just want to check on certain trends in your data, you can create a chart in Excel with a single keystroke. 

One of Excel's lesser-known chart features is that the program has a default chart type that can be activated using keyboard shortcut keys.

This default chart allows users to quickly add a commonly used chart to the current worksheet or to add a chart to a separate worksheet in the current workbook.

The two steps to do this are:

  1. Select the data you want to use in the chart
  2. Press the F11 key on the keyboard

A chart using all the current default settings is created and added to a separate worksheet in the current workbook.

If the factory default settings haven't been changed, the chart created by pressing F11 is a column chart.

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Adding a Default Chart to the Current Worksheet with Alt + F1

Adding a Default Chart to an Excel Workbook using Keyboard Shortcut Keys
© Ted French

As well as adding a copy of the default chart to a separate worksheet, that same chart can be added to the current worksheet - the worksheet where the chart data is located -- by using a different keyboard shortcut keys.

  1. Select the data you want to use in the chart;
  2. Press and hold down the Alt key on the keyboard;
  3. Press and release the F1 key on the keyboard;
  4. The default chart is added to the current worksheet.
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Changing the Excel Default Chart Type

If pressing F11 or Alt + F1 produces a chart that isn't to your liking,  you need to change the default chart type.

A new default chart type must be selected from the custom templates folder in Excel which holds only templates that you have created.

The easiest way to change the default chart type in Excel is to:

  1. Right-click on an existing chart to open the right-click context menu;
  2. Choose Change Chart Type from the context menu to open the Change Chart Type dialog box;
  3. Click on Templates in the left-hand pane of the dialog box;
  4. Right click on a chart example in the right hand My Templates pane;
  5. Choose “Set as default chart” in the context menu.
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Creating and Saving Chart Templates

If you haven't yet created a template that can be used as the default chart type, the easiest way to do this is to:

  1. Modify an existing chart to include all formatting options -- such as background color, X and Y scale settings, and font type -- for the new template;
  2. Right-click on the chart;
  3. Choose “Save as Template...” from the context menu as shown in the image above, to open the ​Save Chart Template dialog box;
  4. Name the template;
  5. Click the Save button to save the template and close the dialog box.

Note: The file is saved as a .crtx file to the following location:

C:\Documents and Settings\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates\Charts

 

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Deleting a Chart Template

The easiest way to delete a custom chart template in Excel is to:

  1. Right-click on an existing chart to open the Right-click context menu;
  2. Choose “Change Chart Type” from the context menu to open the Change Chart Type dialog box;
  3. Click on Templates in the left-hand pane of the dialog box;
  4. Click on the Manage Templates button in the bottom left corner of the dialog box to open the chart templates folder;
  5. Right-click on the template to be deleted and choose  Delete in the context menu -- the Delete file dialog box will open asking you to confirm the file deletion;
  6. Click on Yes in the dialog box to delete the template and close the dialog box.