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Using the Keyboard to Select and Resize a Chart Object

Charts can be included in a workbook in one of two ways: as chart sheets or as chart objects. A chart sheet means that the chart takes up its own sheet in the workbook. A chart object appears as an object in a regular worksheet.

If you like to use the keyboard in preference to the mouse, you may wonder how you can select and resize a chart object. There are a couple of ways to approach the problem. The first method is rather, shall we say, messy—it involves quite a few steps. These will work in Excel 97 or Excel 2000:

  1. Make sure the Drawing toolbar is displayed.
  2. Press F10 or the Alt key to activate the menu bar. (The File menu will be selected.)
  3. Repeatedly press Ctrl+Tab or Ctrl+Shift+Tab (as necessary) until the Drawing toolbar is selected.
  4. Repeatedly press the arrow keys until the Select Objects tool (the one that looks like a mouse pointer) is selected.
  5. Press Enter. The Select Objects tool is now activated.
  6. Repeatedly press Tab or Shift+Tab (as necessary) until handles appear around the chart object.
  7. Press Alt+O to display the Format menu.
  8. Use the arrow keys to select the Object option from the menu and press Enter. Excel displays the Format Object dialog box.
  9. Use the Tab key and arrow keys to adjust the various size options in the dialog box.
  10. Press Enter to accept your changes and close the dialog box.
  11. Press Esc to de-activate the Select Objects tool on the Drawing toolbar and return to the worksheet.

If you are using Excel 2002 or Excel 2003, following the above steps will cause Excel to crash. (At least, it did on my system.) This is very interesting; the crash occurs every time at step 6. If you are using Excel 2002 or Excel 2003, you should follow these steps, instead:

  1. Make sure the Drawing toolbar is displayed.
  2. Press F10 or the Alt key to activate the menu bar. (The File menu will be selected.)
  3. Repeatedly press Ctrl+Tab or Ctrl+Shift+Tab (as necessary) until the Drawing toolbar is selected.
  4. Repeatedly press the arrow keys until the Select Objects tool (the one that looks like a mouse pointer) is selected.
  5. Press Ctrl+Enter. Excel selects the first object in the worksheet, which in all likelihood is your chart object.
  6. Press Alt+O to display the Format menu.
  7. Use the arrow keys to select the Object option from the menu and press Enter. Excel displays the Format Object dialog box.
  8. Use the Tab key and arrow keys to adjust the various size options in the dialog box.
  9. Press Enter to accept your changes and close the dialog box.
  10. Press Esc to de-activate the Select Objects tool on the Drawing toolbar and return to the worksheet.

Obviously, using the mouse to resize a chart object would be much easier. If you need to use the keyboard extensively to duplicate what is normally done with the mouse, you might consider using the Mouse Keys accessibility feature of Windows. Exactly how you use this feature is beyond the scope of ExcelTips, but it allows you to regain much of the convenience of the mouse by simply using the keyboard. You can install this feature by checking out the Accessibility applet in the Control Panel.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2837) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!

 

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Comments for this tip:

Andrew McQuillen    09 Jan 2014, 06:23
Hi,
I have two excel workbooks each with charts on individual tabs so that they can be read when projected onto a wall.
one of the sheets automatically shows the charts at full size and there is no option to resize whereas the other one needs to be resized for the wall as this is at a different resolution to my pc.
I inherited the file with the charts at full size and have no idea how I can make all the charts open up filling the page. can you help.
Thanks Andrew
Fred Goodman    09 Jan 2014, 01:37
Here is a very quick way to change the size of a chart with the keyboard.

Alt V
Z
Tab
enter percent you want. eg. 200/Enter
Alt/page down takes you to the right
page down takes you to the bottom
or you can just scroll around
Then Ctrl/Z sends you back to the original size
 
 

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