Using the Keyboard to Select and Resize a Chart Object

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 4, 2014)

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.

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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