Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Controlling the Plotting of Empty Cells.

Controlling the Plotting of Empty Cells

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 24, 2018)

When you create a chart from a data table, Excel does its best to translate the numeric values into data points on a chart, according to the specifications you provide. One area where Excel doesn't quite know what to do, however, is empty cells. If a cell is empty, it could be for any number of reasons—the value isn't available, the value isn't important, or the value is really zero.

You can instruct the program how you want it to treat empty cells by following these steps:

  1. Select the chart you want to affect.
  2. Choose Options from the Tools menu. Excel displays the Options dialog box.
  3. Make sure the Chart tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Chart tab of the Options dialog box.

  5. Using the option buttons at the top of the dialog box, specify how you want Excel to chart empty cells.
  6. Click OK.

If the option buttons are not available at the top of the screen, it means that you don't have a chart visible on the screen. The option buttons provide three different settings:

  • Not Plotted. Excel leaves gaps in the chart where the empty cells appear.
  • Zero. Excel treats the empty cells as if they contained zero values, and plots accordingly.
  • Interpolated. Excel examines the values surrounding the empty cell and guesses what value the cell should contain based on those values.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3054) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Controlling the Plotting of Empty Cells.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Creating Categories for Your Table of Authorities

A table of authorities is normally divided into separate sections based on categories you define. Here's how to create ...

Discover More

Viewing Two Worksheets At Once

If you need to work on two worksheets in the same workbook at the same time, Excel makes this rather easy to do. All you ...

Discover More

Setting the Width for Row Labels

Excel displays, by default, a row label or heading at the left side of each row on the screen. As you scroll down the ...

Discover More

Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Moving Groups of Data Labels at One Time

Having problems working with data labels in your charts? That's not unusual; here's an idea of an add-in that could help ...

Discover More

Multiple Data Points in a Chart Column

Excel provides lots of ways you can create charts. This tip provides some pointers on how you can combine stacked column ...

Discover More

Automatically Creating Charts for Individual Rows in a Data Table

If you have a lot of records in a data table, you may want to create individual charts based on the information in those ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 8 - 1?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.