Excel 2016 Power Programming with VBA (2016)

Part II. Advanced VBA Techniques

Chapter 9. Working with Charts

In This Chapter

·     Discovering essential background information on Excel charts

·     Knowing the difference between embedded charts and chart sheets

·     Understanding the Chart object model

·     Using methods other than the macro recorder to help you learn about Chart objects

·     Exploring examples of common charting tasks that use VBA

·     Navigating more complex charting macros

·     Finding out some interesting (and useful) chart-making tricks

·     Working with Sparkline charts

Getting the Inside Scoop on Charts

Excel’s charting feature lets you create a wide variety of charts using data that’s stored in a worksheet. You have a great deal of control over nearly every aspect of each chart.

An Excel chart is simply packed with objects, each of which has its own properties and methods. Because of this, manipulating charts with Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) can be a bit of a challenge. In this chapter, we discuss the key concepts that you need to understand to write VBA code that generates or manipulates charts. The secret, as you’ll see, is a good understanding of the object hierarchy for charts.

Chart locations

In Excel, a chart can be located in either of two places in a workbook:

·     As an embedded object on a worksheet: A worksheet can contain any number of embedded charts.

·     In a separate chart sheet: A chart sheet normally holds a single chart.

Most users create charts manually by using the commands in the Insert ➜ Charts group. But you can also create charts by using VBA. And, of course, you can use VBA to modify existing charts.

inline Tip

The fastest way to create a chart manually is to select your data and then press Alt+F1. Excel creates an embedded chart and uses the default chart type. To create a new default chart on a chart sheet, select the data and press F11.

A key concept when working with charts is the active chart — that is, the chart that’s currently selected. When the user clicks an embedded chart or activates a chart sheet, a Chart object is activated. In VBA, the ActiveChart property returns the activated Chart object (if any). You can write code to work with this Chart object, much like you can write code to work with the Workbook object returned by the ActiveWorkbook property.

Here’s an example: If a chart is activated, the following statement will display the Name property for the Chart object:

MsgBox ActiveChart.Name

If a chart isn’t activated, the preceding statement generates an error.

inline Note

As you see later in this chapter, you don’t need to activate a chart to manipulate it with VBA.

The macro recorder and charts

If you’ve read other chapters in the book, you know that we often recommend using the macro recorder to learn about objects, properties, and methods. As always, recorded macros are best viewed as a learning tool. The recorded code will almost always steer you to the relevant objects, properties, and methods.

inline Compatibility note

The VBA code in this chapter uses the chart-related properties and methods that were introduced in Excel 2013. For example, Excel 2013 introduced the AddChart2 method. The AddChart method still works, but we focus on the most recent changes, which are often much easier to use. As a result, some of the code presented here won’t work with versions prior to Excel 2013.

The Chart object model

When you first start exploring the object model for a Chart object, you’ll probably be confused — which isn’t surprising because the object model is confusing. It’s also deep.

For example, assume that you want to change the title displayed in an embedded chart. The top-level object, of course, is the Application object (Excel). The Application object contains a Workbook object, and the Workbook object contains a Worksheet object. The Worksheetobject contains a ChartObject object, which contains a Chart object. The Chart object has a ChartTitle object, and the ChartTitle object has a Text property that stores the text displayed as the chart’s title.

Here’s another way to look at this hierarchy for an embedded chart:







Your VBA code must, of course, follow this object model precisely. For example, to set a chart’s title to YTD Sales, you can write a VBA instruction like this:

Worksheets(1).ChartObjects(1).Chart.ChartTitle.Text ="YTD Sales"

This statement assumes the active workbook is the Workbook object. The statement works with the first object in the ChartObjects collection on the first worksheet. The Chart property returns the actual Chart object, and the ChartTitle property returns the ChartTitleobject. Finally, you get to the Text property.

Note that the preceding statement will fail if the chart doesn’t have a title. To add a default title to the chart (which displays the text Chart Title), use this statement:

Worksheets("Sheet1").ChartObjects(1).Chart.HasTitle = True

For a chart sheet, the object hierarchy is a bit different because it doesn’t involve the Worksheet object or the ChartObject object. For example, here’s the hierarchy for the ChartTitle object for a chart in a chart sheet:





You can use this VBA statement to set the chart title in a chart sheet to YTD Sales:

Sheets("Chart1").ChartTitle.Text ="YTD Sales"

A chart sheet is essentially a Chart object, and it has no containing ChartObject object. Put another way, the parent object for an embedded chart is a ChartObject object, and the parent object for a chart on a separate chart sheet is a Workbook object.

Both of the following statements will display a message box that displays the word Chart:

MsgBox TypeName(Sheets("Sheet1").ChartObjects(1).Chart)

Msgbox TypeName(Sheets("Chart1"))

inline Note

When you create a new embedded chart, you’re adding to the ChartObjects collection and the Shapes collection contained in a particular worksheet. (There is no Charts collection for a worksheet.) When you create a new chart sheet, you’re adding to theCharts collection and the Sheets collection for a particular workbook.

Creating an Embedded Chart

A ChartObject is a special type of Shape object. Therefore, it’s a member of the Shapes collection. To create a new chart, use the AddChart2 method of the Shapes collection. The following statement creates an empty embedded chart with all default settings:


The AddChart2 method can use seven arguments (all are optional):

·     Style: A numeric code that specifies the style (or overall look) of the chart.

·     xlChartType: The type of chart. If omitted, the default chart type is used. Constants for all the chart types are provided (for example, xlArea and xlColumnClustered).

·     Left: The left position of the chart, in points. If omitted, Excel centers the chart horizontally.

·     Top: The top position of the chart, in points. If omitted, Excel centers the chart vertically.

·     Width: The width of the chart, in points. If omitted, Excel uses 354.

·     Height: The height of the chart, in points. If omitted, Excel uses 210.

·     NewLayout: A numeric code that specifies the layout of the chart.

Here’s a statement that creates a clustered column chart, using Style 201 and Layout 5, positioned 50 pixels from the left, 60 pixels from the top, 300 pixels wide, and 200 pixels high:

ActiveSheet.Shapes.AddChart2 201, xlColumnClustered, 50, 60, 300, 200, 5

In many cases, you may find it efficient to create an object variable when the chart is created. The following procedure creates a line chart that you can reference in code by using the MyChart object variable. Note that the AddChart2 method specifies only the first two arguments. The other five arguments use default values.

Sub CreateChart()

    Dim MyChart As Chart

    Set MyChart = ActiveSheet.Shapes.AddChart2(212,xlLineMarkers).Chart

End Sub

A chart without data isn’t useful. You can specify data for a chart in two ways:

·     Select cells before your code creates the chart.

·     Use the SetSourceData method of the Chart object after the chart is created.

Here’s a simple procedure that selects a range of data and then creates a chart:

Sub CreateChart2()


    ActiveSheet.Shapes.AddChart2 201, xlColumnClustered

End Sub

The procedure that follows demonstrates the SetSourceData method. This procedure uses two object variables: DataRange (for the Range object that holds the data) and MyChart (for the Chart object). The MyChart object variable is created at the same time the chart is created.

 Sub CreateChart3()

    Dim MyChart As Chart

    Dim DataRange As Range

    Set DataRange = ActiveSheet.Range("A1:B6")

    Set MyChart = ActiveSheet.Shapes.AddChart2.Chart

    MyChart.SetSourceData Source:=DataRange

End Sub

Note the AddChart2 method has no arguments, so a default chart is created.

Creating a Chart on a Chart Sheet

The preceding section describes the basic procedures for creating an embedded chart. To create a chart directly on a chart sheet, use the Add2 method of the Charts collection. The Add2 method of the Charts collection uses several optional arguments, but these arguments specify the position of the chart sheet — not chart-related information.

The example that follows creates a chart on a chart sheet and specifies the data range and chart type:

Sub CreateChartSheet()

    Dim MyChart As Chart

    Dim DataRange As Range

    Set DataRange = ActiveSheet.Range("A1:C7")

    Set MyChart = Charts.Add2

    MyChart.SetSourceData Source:=DataRange

    ActiveChart.ChartType = xlColumnClustered

End Sub

Modifying Charts

Enhancements introduced with Excel 2013 make it easier than ever for end users to create and modify charts. For example, when a chart is activated, Excel displays three icons on the right side of the chart: Chart Elements (used to add or remove elements from the chart), Style & Color (used to select a chart style or change the color palette), and Chart Filters (used to hide series or data points).

Your VBA code can perform all the actions available from the new chart controls. For example, if you turn on the macro recorder while you add or remove elements from a chart, you’ll see that the relevant method is SetElement (a method of the Chart object). This method takes one argument, and predefined constants are available. For example, to add primary horizontal gridlines to the active chart, use this statement:

ActiveChart.SetElement msoElementPrimaryValueGridLinesMajor

To remove the primary horizontal gridlines, use this statement:

ActiveChart.SetElement msoElementPrimaryValueGridLinesNone

All the constants are listed in the Help system, or you can use the macro recorder to discover them.

Use the ChartStyle property to change the chart to a predefined style. The styles are numbers, and no descriptive constants are available. For example, this statement changes the style of the active chart to Style 215:

ActiveChart.ChartStyle = 215

Valid values for the ChartStyle property are 1–48 and 201–248. The latter group consists of styles introduced in Excel 2013. Also, keep in mind that the actual appearance of the styles isn’t consistent across Excel versions. For example, applying style 48 looks different in Excel 2010.

To change the color scheme used by a chart, set its ChartColor property to a value between 1 and 26. For example:

ActiveChart.ChartColor = 12

When you combine the 96 ChartStyle values with the 26 ChartColor options, you have 2,496 combinations — enough to satisfy just about anyone. And if those prebuilt choices aren’t enough, you have control over every element in a chart. For example, the following code changes the fill color for one point in a chart series:

With ActiveChart.FullSeriesCollection(1).Points(2).Format.Fill

    .Visible = msoTrue

    .ForeColor.ObjectThemeColor = msoThemeColorAccent2

    .ForeColor.TintAndShade = 0.4

    .ForeColor.Brightness = -0.25


End With

Again, recording your actions while you make changes to a chart will give you the object model information you need to write your code.

Using VBA to Activate a Chart

When a user clicks any area of an embedded chart, the chart is activated. Your VBA code can activate an embedded chart with the Activate method. Here’s a VBA statement that’s the equivalent of clicking an embedded chart to activate it:

ActiveSheet.ChartObjects("Chart 1").Activate

If the chart is on a chart sheet, use a statement like this:


Alternatively, you can activate a chart by selecting its containing Shape:

ActiveSheet.Shapes("Chart 1").Select

When a chart is activated, you can refer to it in your code by using the ActiveChart property (which returns a Chart object). For example, the following instruction displays the name of the active chart. If no active chart exists, the statement generates an error:

MsgBox ActiveChart.Name

To modify a chart with VBA, it’s not necessary to activate it. The two procedures that follow have exactly the same effect. That is, they change the embedded chart named Chart 1 to an area chart. The first procedure activates the chart before performing the manipulations; the second one doesn’t:

Sub ModifyChart1()

    ActiveSheet.ChartObjects("Chart 1").Activate

    ActiveChart.ChartType = xlArea

End Sub

Sub ModifyChart2()

    ActiveSheet.ChartObjects("Chart 1").Chart.ChartType = xlArea

End Sub

Moving a Chart

A chart embedded on a worksheet can be converted to a chart sheet. To do so manually, just activate the embedded chart and choose Chart Tools ➜ Design ➜ Location ➜ Move Chart. In the Move Chart dialog box, select the New Sheet option and specify a name.

You can also convert an embedded chart to a chart sheet by using VBA. Here’s an example that converts the first ChartObject on a worksheet named Sheet1 to a chart sheet named MyChart:

Sub MoveChart1()

    Sheets("Sheet1").ChartObjects(1).Chart. _

      Location xlLocationAsNewSheet,"MyChart"

End Sub

Unfortunately, you can’t undo this action once the macro is triggered. However, you can use the following code to do the opposite of the preceding procedure: It converts the chart on a chart sheet named MyChart to an embedded chart on the worksheet named Sheet1.

Sub MoveChart2()

    Charts("MyChart").Location xlLocationAsObject,"Sheet1"

End Sub

inline Note

Using the Location method also activates the relocated chart.

inline Understanding chart names

Every ChartObject object has a name, and every Chart object contained in a ChartObject has a name. That statement seems straightforward, but chart names can be confusing. Create a new chart on Sheet1 and activate it. Then activate the VBA Immediate window and type a few commands:

? ActiveSheet.Shapes(1).Name

Chart 1

? ActiveSheet.ChartObjects(1).Name

Chart 1

? ActiveChart.Name

Sheet1 Chart 1

? Activesheet.ChartObjects(1).Chart.Name

Sheet1 Chart 1

If you change the name of the worksheet, the name of the chart also changes to include the new sheet name. You can also use the Name box (to the left of the Formula bar) to change a Chart object’s name, and also change the name using VBA:

Activesheet.ChartObjects(1).Name ="New Name"

However, you can’t change the name of a Chart object contained in a ChartObject. This statement generates an inexplicable “out of memory” error:

Activesheet.ChartObjects(1).Chart.Name ="New Name"

Oddly, Excel allows you to use the name of an existing ChartObject. In other words, you could have a dozen embedded charts on a worksheet, and every one of them can be named Chart 1. If you make a copy of an embedded chart, the new chart has the same name as the source chart.

Bottom line? Be aware of this quirk. If you find that your VBA charting macro isn’t working, make sure that you don’t have two identically named charts.

Using VBA to Deactivate a Chart

You can use the Activate method to activate a chart, but how do you deactivate (that is, deselect) a chart?

The only way to deactivate a chart by using VBA is to select something other than the chart. For an embedded chart, you can use the RangeSelection property of the ActiveWindow object to deactivate the chart and select the range that was selected before the chart was activated:


To deactivate a chart on a chart sheet, just write code that activates a different sheet.

Determining Whether a Chart Is Activated

A common type of macro performs some manipulations on the active chart (the chart selected by a user). For example, a macro might change the chart’s type, apply a style, add data labels, or export the chart to a graphics file.

The question is how can your VBA code determine whether the user has actually selected a chart? By selecting a chart, we mean either activating a chart sheet or activating an embedded chart by clicking it. Your first inclination might be to check the TypeName property of the Selection, as in this expression:

TypeName(Selection) ="Chart"

In fact, this expression never evaluates to True. When a chart is activated, the actual selection will be an object within the Chart object. For example, the selection might be a Series object, a ChartTitle object, a Legend object, or a PlotArea object.

The solution is to determine whether ActiveChart is Nothing. If so, a chart isn’t active. The following code checks to ensure that a chart is active. If not, the user sees a message, and the procedure ends:

If ActiveChart Is Nothing Then

    MsgBox"Select a chart."

    Exit Sub


    'other code goes here

End If

You may find it convenient to use a VBA function procedure to determine whether a chart is activated. The ChartIsSelected function, which follows, returns True if a chart sheet is active or if an embedded chart is activated, but returns False if a chart isn’t activated:

Private Function ChartIsActivated() As Boolean

    ChartIsActivated = Not ActiveChart Is Nothing

End Function

Deleting from the ChartObjects or Charts Collection

To delete a chart on a worksheet, you must know the name or index of the ChartObject or the Shape object. This statement deletes the ChartObject named Chart 1 on the active worksheet:

ActiveSheet.ChartObjects("Chart 1").Delete

Keep in mind that multiple ChartObjects can have the same name. If that’s the case, you can delete a chart by using its index number:


To delete all ChartObject objects on a worksheet, use the Delete method of the ChartObjects collection:


You can also delete embedded charts by accessing the Shapes collection. The following statement deletes the shape named Chart 1 on the active worksheet:

ActiveSheet.Shapes("Chart 1").Delete

This code deletes all embedded charts (and all other shapes) on the active sheet:

Dim shp as Shape

For Each shp In ActiveSheet.Shapes


Next shp

To delete a single chart sheet, you must know the chart sheet’s name or index. The following statement deletes the chart sheet named Chart1:


To delete all chart sheets in the active workbook, use the following statement:


Deleting sheets causes Excel to display a warning that data could be lost. The user must confirm the deletion before the macro can continue. You probably won’t want to inundate the user with this warning prompt. To eliminate the prompt, use the DisplayAlertsproperty to temporarily turn alerts off before deleting.

Application.DisplayAlerts = False


Application.DisplayAlerts = True

Looping through All Charts

In some cases, you may need to perform an operation on all charts. The following example applies changes to every embedded chart on the active worksheet. The procedure uses a loop to cycle through each object in the ChartObjects collection and then accesses theChart object in each and changes several properties.

Sub FormatAllCharts()

    Dim ChtObj As ChartObject

    For Each ChtObj In ActiveSheet.ChartObjects

      With ChtObj.Chart

        .ChartType = xlLineMarkers

        .ApplyLayout 3

        .ChartStyle = 12


        .SetElement msoElementChartTitleAboveChart

        .SetElement msoElementLegendNone

        .SetElement msoElementPrimaryValueAxisTitleNone

        .SetElement msoElementPrimaryCategoryAxisTitleNone

        .Axes(xlValue).MinimumScale = 0

        .Axes(xlValue).MaximumScale = 1000

        With .Axes(xlValue).MajorGridlines.Format.Line

            .ForeColor.ObjectThemeColor = msoThemeColorBackground1

            .ForeColor.TintAndShade = 0

            .ForeColor.Brightness = -0.25

            .DashStyle = msoLineSysDash

            .Transparency = 0

        End With

      End With

    Next ChtObj

End Sub

inline On the Web

This example is available on the book’s website in the format all charts.xlsm file.

Figure 9.1 shows four charts that use a variety of different formatting; Figure 9.2 shows the same charts after running the FormatAllCharts macro.

Four graphs show variation of products A, B, C and D from January to June using different formatting techniques.

Figure 9.1 These charts use different formatting.

Four scatter plots show variation of products A, B, C and D from January to June using macro consistent formatting techniques.

Figure 9.2 A simple macro applied consistent formatting to the four charts.

The following macro performs the same operation as the preceding FormatAllCharts procedure but works on all the chart sheets in the active workbook:

Sub FormatAllCharts2()

    Dim cht as Chart

    For Each cht In ActiveWorkbook.Charts

      With cht

        .ChartType = xlLineMarkers

        .ApplyLayout 3

        .ChartStyle = 12


        .SetElement msoElementChartTitleAboveChart

        .SetElement msoElementLegendNone

        .SetElement msoElementPrimaryValueAxisTitleNone

        .SetElement msoElementPrimaryCategoryAxisTitleNone

        .Axes(xlValue).MinimumScale = 0

        .Axes(xlValue).MaximumScale = 1000

        With .Axes(xlValue).MajorGridlines.Format.Line

            .ForeColor.ObjectThemeColor = msoThemeColorBackground1

            .ForeColor.TintAndShade = 0

            .ForeColor.Brightness = -0.25

            .DashStyle = msoLineSysDash

            .Transparency = 0

        End With

      End With

    Next cht

End Sub

Sizing and Aligning ChartObjects

A ChartObject object has standard positional (Top and Left) and sizing (Width and Height) properties that you can access with your VBA code. The Excel Ribbon has controls (in the Chart Tools ➜ Format ➜ Size group) to set the Height and Width, but not the Top andLeft.

The following example resizes all ChartObject objects on a sheet so that they match the dimensions of the active chart. It also arranges the ChartObject objects into a user-specified number of columns.

Sub SizeAndAlignCharts()

    Dim W As Long, H As Long

    Dim TopPosition As Long, LeftPosition As Long

    Dim ChtObj As ChartObject

    Dim i As Long, NumCols As Long

    If ActiveChart Is Nothing Then

        MsgBox"Select a chart to be used as the base for the sizing"

        Exit Sub

    End If

    'Get columns

    On Error Resume Next

    NumCols = InputBox("How many columns of charts?")

    If Err.Number <> 0 Then Exit Sub

    If NumCols < 1 Then Exit Sub

    On Error GoTo 0

    'Get size of active chart

    W = ActiveChart.Parent.Width

    H = ActiveChart.Parent.Height

    'Change starting positions, if necessary

    TopPosition = 100

    LeftPosition = 20

    For i = 1 To ActiveSheet.ChartObjects.Count

        With ActiveSheet.ChartObjects(i)

            .Width = W

            .Height = H

            .Left = LeftPosition + ((i - 1) Mod NumCols) * W

            .Top = TopPosition + Int((i - 1) / NumCols) * H

        End With

    Next i

End Sub

If no chart is active, the user is prompted to activate a chart that will be used as the basis for sizing the other charts. We use an InputBox function to get the number of columns. The values for the Left and Top properties are calculated within the loop.

inline On the Web

This workbook, named size and align charts.xlsm, is available on the book’s website.

Creating Lots of Charts

The example in this section demonstrates how to automate the task of creating multiple charts. Figure 9.3 shows part of the data to be charted. The worksheet contains data for 50 people, and the goal is to create 50 charts, consistently formatted and nicely aligned.

Screenshot shows a data table of columns A to F with names of people and days from 1 to 5 on sheet 1.

Figure 9.3 Each row of data will be used to create a chart.

We start out by creating the CreateChart procedure, which accepts the following arguments:

·     rng: The range to be used for the chart

·     l: The left position for the chart

·     t: The top position for the chart

·     w: The width of the chart

·     h: The height of the chart

The CreateChart procedure uses these arguments to create a line chart with axis scale values ranging from 0 to 100.

Sub CreateChart(rng, l, t, w, h)

    With Worksheets("Sheet2").Shapes. _

      AddChart2(332, xlLineMarkers, l, t, w, h).Chart

        .SetSourceData Source:=rng

        .Axes(xlValue).MinimumScale = 0

        .Axes(xlValue).MaximumScale = 100

    End With

End Sub

Next, we can apply the procedure Make50Charts, which uses a For-Next loop to call CreateChart 50 times. Note that the chart data consists of the first row (the headers), plus data in a row from 2 through 50. We used the Union method to join these two ranges into oneRange object, which is passed to the CreateChart procedure. The other tricky part is to determine the top and left position for each chart. This code does that:

Sub Make50Charts()

    Dim ChartData As Range

    Dim i As Long

    Dim leftPos As Long, topPos As Long

'   Delete existing charts if they exist

    With Worksheets("Sheet2").ChartObjects

        If .Count > 0 Then .Delete

    End With

'   Initialize positions

    leftPos = 0

    topPos = 0

'   Loop through the data

    For i = 2 To 51

'       Determine the data range

        With Worksheets("Sheet1")

          Set ChartData = Union(.Range("A1:F1"), _

            .Range(.Cells(i, 1), .Cells(i, 6)))

        End With

'       Create a chart

        Call CreateChart(ChartData, leftPos, topPos, 180, 120)

'       Adjust positions

        If (i - 1) Mod 5 = 0 Then

            leftPos = 0

            topPos = topPos + 120


            leftPos = leftPos + 180

        End If

    Next i

End Sub

Figure 9.4 shows some of the 50 charts.

Computer programming language shows creation of 50 charts using Make50Charts and CreateChart procedures and For-Next loop.

Figure 9.4 A sampling of the 50 charts created by the macro.

Exporting a Chart

In some cases, you may need an Excel chart in the form of a graphics file. For example, you may want to post the chart on a website. One option is to use a screen capture program and copy the pixels directly from the screen. Another choice is to write a simple VBA macro.

The procedure that follows uses the Export method of the Chart object to save the active chart as a GIF file:

Sub SaveChartAsGIF ()

  Dim Fname as String

  If ActiveChart Is Nothing Then Exit Sub

  Fname = ThisWorkbook.Path &"\" & ActiveChart.Name &".gif"

  ActiveChart.Export FileName:=Fname, FilterName:="GIF"

End Sub

Other choices for the FilterName argument are "JPEG" and "PNG". Usually, GIF and PNG files look better. The Help system lists a third argument for the Export method: Interactive. If this argument is True, you’re supposed to see a dialog box in which you can specify export options. However, this argument has no effect.

Keep in mind that the Export method will fail if the user doesn’t have the specified graphics export filter installed. These filters are installed in the Office setup program.

Exporting all graphics

One way to export all graphic images from a workbook is to save the file in HTML format. Doing so creates a directory that contains GIF and PNG images of the charts, shapes, clipart, and even copied range images created with Home [➜ Clipboard ➜ Paste ➜ Picture (U)].

Here’s a VBA procedure that automates the process. It works with the active workbook:

Sub SaveAllGraphics()

    Dim FileName As String

    Dim TempName As String

    Dim DirName As String

    Dim gFile As String

    FileName = ActiveWorkbook.FullName

    TempName = ActiveWorkbook.Path &"\" & _

       ActiveWorkbook.Name &"graphics.htm"

    DirName = Left(TempName, Len(TempName) - 4) &"_files"

'   Save active workbookbook as HTML, then reopen original


    ActiveWorkbook.SaveAs FileName:=TempName, FileFormat:=xlHtml

    Application.DisplayAlerts = False


    Workbooks.Open FileName

'   Delete the HTML file

    Kill TempName

'   Delete all but *.PNG files in the HTML folder

    gFile = Dir(DirName &"\*.*")

    Do While gFile <>""

        If Right(gFile, 3) <>"png" Then Kill DirName &"\" & gFile

        gFile = Dir


'   Show the exported graphics

    Shell"explorer.exe" & DirName, vbNormalFocus

End Sub

The procedure starts by saving the active workbook. Then it saves the workbook as an HTML file, closes the file, and reopens the original workbook. Next, it deletes the HTML file because we’re just interested in the folder that it creates (because that folder contains the images). The code then loops through the folder and deletes everything except the PNG files. Finally, it uses the Shell function to display the folder.

inline Cross-Ref

See Chapter 11 for more information about the file manipulation commands.

inline On the Web

This example is available on the book’s website in the export all graphics .xlsm file.

Changing the Data Used in a Chart

The examples so far in this chapter have used the SourceData property to specify the complete data range for a chart. In many cases, you’ll want to adjust the data used by a particular chart series. To do so, access the Values property of the Series object. The Seriesobject also has an XValues property that stores the category axis values.

inline Note

The Values property corresponds to the third argument of the SERIES formula, and the XValues property corresponds to the second argument of the SERIES formula. See the sidebar,"Understanding a chart’s SERIES formula."

inline Understanding a chart’s SERIES formula

The data used in each series in a chart is determined by its SERIES formula. When you select a data series in a chart, the SERIES formula appears in the formula bar. This is not a real formula: In other words, you can’t use it in a cell, and you can’t use worksheet functions within the SERIES formula. You can, however, edit the arguments in the SERIES formula.

A SERIES formula has the following syntax:

=SERIES(series_name, category_labels, values, order, sizes)

The arguments that you can use in the SERIES formula are:

·     series_name: Optional. A reference to the cell that contains the series name used in the legend. If the chart has only one series, the name argument is used as the title. This argument can also consist of text in quotation marks. If omitted, Excel creates a default series name (for example, Series 1).

·     category_labels: Optional. A reference to the range that contains the labels for the category axis. If omitted, Excel uses consecutive integers beginning with 1. For XY charts, this argument specifies the X values. A noncontiguous range reference is also valid. The ranges’ addresses are separated by a comma and enclosed in parentheses. The argument could also consist of an array of comma-separated values (or text in quotation marks) enclosed in curly brackets.

·     values: Required. A reference to the range that contains the values for the series. For XY charts, this argument specifies the Y values. A noncontiguous range reference is also valid. The ranges’ addresses are separated by a comma and enclosed in parentheses. The argument could also consist of an array of comma-separated values enclosed in curly brackets.

·     order: Required. An integer that specifies the plotting order of the series. This argument is relevant only if the chart has more than one series. For example, in a stacked column chart, this parameter determines the stacking order. Using a reference to a cell is not allowed.

·     sizes: Only for bubble charts. A reference to the range that contains the values for the size of the bubbles in a bubble chart. A noncontiguous range reference is also valid. The ranges’ addresses are separated by a comma and enclosed in parentheses. The argument could also consist of an array of values enclosed in curly brackets.

Range references in a SERIES formula are always absolute, and they always include the sheet name. For example:


A range reference can consist of a noncontiguous range. If so, each range is separated by a comma, and the argument is enclosed in parentheses. In the following SERIES formula, the values range consists of B2:B3 and B5:B7:


You can substitute range names for the range references. If you do so (and the name is a workbook-level name), Excel changes the reference in the SERIES formula to include the workbook. For example:


Changing chart data based on the active cell

Figure 9.5 shows a chart that’s based on the data in the row of the active cell. When the user moves the cell pointer, the chart is updated automatically.

Chart shows mouse pad diagram, bar graph for well-maintained stores with a greater value of 32 percentage and highlighting it in the survey item.

Figure 9.5 This chart always displays the data from the row of the active cell.

This example uses an event handler for the Sheet1 object. The SelectionChange event occurs whenever the user changes the selection by moving the cell pointer. The event-handler procedure for this event (which is located in the code module for the Sheet1 object) is as follows:

Private Sub Worksheet_SelectionChange(ByVal Target As Excel.Range)

    If CheckBox1 Then Call UpdateChart

End Sub

In other words, every time the user moves the cell cursor, the Worksheet_SelectionChange procedure is executed. If the Auto Update Chart check box (an ActiveX control on the sheet) is checked, this procedure calls the UpdateChart procedure, which follows:

Sub UpdateChart()

    Dim ChtObj As ChartObject

    Dim UserRow As Long

    Set ChtObj = ActiveSheet.ChartObjects(1)

    UserRow = ActiveCell.Row

    If UserRow < 4 Or IsEmpty(Cells(UserRow, 1)) Then

        ChtObj.Visible = False


        ChtObj.Chart.SeriesCollection(1).Values = _

           Range(Cells(UserRow, 2), Cells(UserRow, 6))

        ChtObj.Chart.ChartTitle.Text = Cells(UserRow, 1).Text

        ChtObj.Visible = True

    End If

End Sub

The UserRow variable contains the row number of the active cell. The If statement checks that the active cell is in a row that contains data. (The data starts in row 4.) If the cell cursor is in a row that doesn’t have data, the ChartObject object is hidden, and the underlying text is visible (“Cannot display chart”). Otherwise, the code sets the Values property for the Series object to the range in columns 2–6 of the active row. It also sets the ChartTitle object to correspond to the text in column A.

inline On the Web

This example, named chart active cell.xlsm, is available on the book’s website.

Using VBA to determine the ranges used in a chart

The previous example demonstrated how to use the Values property of a Series object to specify the data used by a chart series. This section discusses using VBA macros to identify the ranges used by a series in a chart. For example, you might want to increase the size of each series by adding a new cell to the range.

Following is a description of three properties that are relevant to this task:

·     Formula property: Returns or sets the SERIES formula for the Series. When you select a series in a chart, its SERIES formula is displayed in the formula bar. The Formula property returns this formula as a string.

·     Values property: Returns or sets a collection of all the values in the series. This property can be specified as a range on a worksheet or as an array of constant values, but not a combination of both.

·     XValues property: Returns or sets an array of X values for a chart series. The XValues property can be set to a range on a worksheet or to an array of values, but it can’t be a combination of both. The XValues property can also be empty.

If you create a VBA macro that needs to determine the data range used by a particular chart series, you might think that the Values property of the Series object is just the ticket. Similarly, the XValues property seems to be the way to get the range that contains the X values (or category labels). In theory, that way of thinking certainly seems correct. But in practice, it doesn’t work.

When you set the Values property for a Series object, you can specify a Range object or an array. But when you read this property, an array is always returned. Unfortunately, the object model provides no way to get a Range object used by a Series object.

One possible solution is to write code to parse the SERIES formula and extract the range addresses. This task sounds simple, but it’s actually difficult because a SERIES formula can be complex. Following are a few examples of valid SERIES formulas:




=SERIES("Sales Summary",,Sheet1!$B$2:$B$4,1)




As you can see, a SERIES formula can have missing arguments, use arrays, and even use noncontiguous range addresses. And, to confuse the issue even more, a bubble chart has an additional argument (for example, the last SERIES formula in the preceding list). Attempting to parse the arguments is certainly not a trivial programming task.

The solution is to use four custom VBA functions, each of which accepts one argument (a reference to a Series object) and returns a two-element array. These functions are the following:

·     SERIESNAME_FROM_SERIES: The first array element contains a string that describes the data type of the first SERIES argument (Range, Empty, or String). The second array element contains a range address, an empty string, or a string.

·     XVALUES_FROM_SERIES: The first array element contains a string that describes the data type of the second SERIES argument (Range, Array, Empty, or String). The second array element contains a range address, an array, an empty string, or a string.

·     VALUES_FROM_SERIES: The first array element contains a string that describes the data type of the third SERIES argument (Range or Array). The second array element contains a range address or an array.

·     BUBBLESIZE_FROM_SERIES: The first array element contains a string that describes the data type of the fifth SERIES argument (Range, Array, or Empty). The second array element contains a range address, an array, or an empty string. This function is relevant only for bubble charts.

Note you can get the fourth SERIES argument (plot order) directly by using the PlotOrder property of the Series object.

inline On the Web

The VBA code for these functions is too lengthy to be listed here, but the code is available on the book’s website in a file named get series ranges.xlsm. These functions are documented in such a way that they can be easily adapted to other situations.

The following example demonstrates the VALUES_FROM_SERIES function. It displays the address of the values range for the first series in the active chart.

Sub ShowValueRange()

    Dim Ser As Series

    Dim x As Variant

    Set Ser = ActiveChart.SeriesCollection(1)


    If x(1) ="Range" Then

        MsgBox Range(x(2)).Address

    End If

End Sub

The variable x is defined as a variant and will hold the two-element array that’s returned by the VALUES_FROM_SERIES function. The first element of the x array contains a string that describes the data type. If the string is Range, the message box displays the address of the range contained in the second element of the x array.

The ContractAllSeries procedure follows. This procedure loops through the SeriesCollection collection and uses the XVALUE_FROM_SERIES and the VALUES_FROM_SERIES functions to retrieve the current ranges. It then uses the Resize method to decrease the size of the ranges.

Sub ContractAllSeries()

    Dim s As Series

    Dim Result As Variant

    Dim DRange As Range

    For Each s In ActiveSheet.ChartObjects(1).Chart.SeriesCollection

        Result = XVALUES_FROM_SERIES(s)

        If Result(1) ="Range" Then

            Set DRange = Range(Result(2))

            If DRange.Rows.Count > 1 Then

                Set DRange = DRange.Resize(DRange.Rows.Count - 1)

                s.XValues = DRange

            End If

        End If

        Result = VALUES_FROM_SERIES(s)

        If Result(1) ="Range" Then

            Set DRange = Range(Result(2))

            If DRange.Rows.Count > 1 Then

                Set DRange = DRange.Resize(DRange.Rows.Count - 1)

                s.Values = DRange

            End If

        End If

    Next s

End Sub

The ExpandAllSeries procedure is similar. When executed, it expands each range by one cell.

Using VBA to Display Arbitrary Data Labels on a Chart

Here’s how to specify a range of data labels for a chart series:

1.  Create your chart and select the data series that will contain labels from a range.

2.  Click the Chart Elements icon to the right of the chart and choose Data Labels.

3.           Click the arrow to right of the Data Labels item and choose More Options.

The Label Options section of the Format Data Labels task pane is displayed.

4.           Select Value From Cells.

Excel prompts you for the range that contains the labels.

Figure 9.6 shows an example. We specify range C2:C7 as the data labels for the series. In the past, specifying a range as data labels had to be done manually or with a VBA macro.

Chart shows table for amount and Pct change for weeks 1 to 6, bar graph for weekly amount with a greater value represented by week 4 and Format Data Labels which select value from cells.

Figure 9.6 Data labels from an arbitrary range show the percent change for each week.

This feature is great but is not completely backward compatible. Figure 9.7 shows how the chart looks when opened in Excel 2010.

Bar graph shows cell range for weekly amount from weeks 1 to 6. Greater value is represented by week 4.

Figure 9.7 Data labels created from a range of data are not compatible with versions of Excel before 2013.

The remainder of this section describes how to apply data labels from an arbitrary range using VBA. The data labels applied in this manner are compatible with previous versions of Excel.

Figure 9.8 shows an XY chart. It would be useful to display the associated name for each data point.

Scatter plot shows labeled data points for before and after results. Vertical and horizontal axes range from 100 to 300 and 100 to 350 respectively.

Figure 9.8 An XY chart that would benefit by having data labels.

The DataLabelsFromRange procedure works with the first chart on the active sheet. It prompts the user for a range and then loops through the Points collection and changes the Text property to the values found in the range.

Sub DataLabelsFromRange()

    Dim DLRange As Range

    Dim Cht As Chart

    Dim i As Integer, Pts As Integer

'   Specify chart

    Set Cht = ActiveSheet.ChartObjects(1).Chart

'   Prompt for a range

    On Error Resume Next

    Set DLRange = Application.InputBox _

      (prompt:="Range for data labels?", Type:=8)

    If DLRange Is Nothing Then Exit Sub

    On Error GoTo 0

'   Add data labels

    Cht.SeriesCollection(1).ApplyDataLabels _

      Type:=xlDataLabelsShowValue, _

      AutoText:=True, _


'   Loop through the Points, and set the data labels

    Pts = Cht.SeriesCollection(1).Points.Count

    For i = 1 To Pts

        Cht.SeriesCollection(1). _

          Points(i).DataLabel.Text = DLRange(i)

    Next i

End Sub

inline On the Web

This example, named data labels.xlsm, is available on the book’s website.

Figure 9.9 shows the chart after running the DataLabelsFromRange procedure and specifying A2:A9 as the data range.

Scatter plot shows before and after results with labeled data points for Paul, John, Chuck, George, Vera, Dave, Brian and Richard. Vertical and horizontal axes range from 100 to 300 and 100 to 350 respectively.

Figure 9.9 This XY chart has data labels, thanks to a VBA procedure.

A data label in a chart can also consist of a link to a cell. To modify the DataLabelsFromRange procedure so it creates cell links, just change the statement in the For-Next loop to:

        Cht.SeriesCollection(1).Points(i).DataLabel.Text = _

          "=" &"'" & DLRange.Parent.Name &"'!" & _


Displaying a Chart in a UserForm

In Chapter 15, we describe a way to display a chart in a UserForm. The technique saves the chart as a GIF file and then loads the GIF file into an Image control on the UserForm.

The example in this section uses that same technique but adds a new twist: The chart is created on the fly and uses the data in the row of the active cell.

The UserForm for this example is simple. It contains an Image control and a CommandButton (Close). The worksheet that contains the data has a button that executes the following procedure:

Sub ShowChart()

    Dim UserRow As Long

    UserRow = ActiveCell.Row

    If UserRow < 2 Or IsEmpty(Cells(UserRow, 1)) Then

        MsgBox"Move the cell pointer to a row that contains data."

        Exit Sub

    End If

    CreateChart (UserRow)


End Sub

Because the chart is based on the data in the row of the active cell, the procedure warns the user if the cell pointer is in an invalid row. If the active cell is appropriate, ShowChart calls the CreateChart procedure to create the chart and then displays the UserForm.

The CreateChart procedure accepts one argument, which represents the row of the active cell. This procedure originated from a macro recording cleaned up to make it more general.

Sub CreateChart(r)

    Dim TempChart As Chart

    Dim CatTitles As Range

    Dim SrcRange As Range, SourceData As Range

    Dim FName As String

    Set CatTitles = ActiveSheet.Range("A2:F2")

    Set SrcRange = ActiveSheet.Range(Cells(r, 1), Cells(r, 6))

    Set SourceData = Union(CatTitles, SrcRange)

'   Add a chart

    Application.ScreenUpdating = False

    Set TempChart = ActiveSheet.Shapes.AddChart2.Chart

        TempChart.SetSourceData Source:=SourceData

'   Fix it up

    With TempChart

        .ChartType = xlColumnClustered

        .SetSourceData Source:=SourceData, PlotBy:=xlRows

        .ChartStyle = 25

        .HasLegend = False

        .PlotArea.Interior.ColorIndex = xlNone


        .ApplyDataLabels Type:=xlDataLabelsShowValue, LegendKey:=False

        .Axes(xlValue).MaximumScale = 0.6

        .ChartArea.Format.Line.Visible = False

    End With

'   Adjust the ChartObject's size

    With ActiveSheet.ChartObjects(1)

        .Width = 300

        .Height = 200

    End With

'   Save chart as GIF

    FName = Application.DefaultFilePath & Application.PathSeparator & _"temp.gif"

    TempChart.Export Filename:=FName, filterName:="GIF"


    Application.ScreenUpdating = True

End Sub

When the CreateChart procedure ends, the worksheet contains a ChartObject with a chart of the data in the row of the active cell. However, the ChartObject isn’t visible because ScreenUpdating is turned off. The chart is exported and deleted, and ScreenUpdating is turned back on.

The final instruction of the ShowChart procedure loads the UserForm. Following is the UserForm_Initialize procedure, which simply loads the GIF file into the Image control:

Private Sub UserForm_Initialize()

    Dim FName As String

    FName = Application.DefaultFilePath & _

        Application.PathSeparator &"temp.gif"

    UserForm1.Image1.Picture = LoadPicture(FName)

End Sub

Figure 9.10 illustrates the resulting userform when the macro is run.

Screenshot shows bar graph for well-maintained stores on customer survey results page. Greater value is indicated by undecided condition with 32 percentage and a Close button is represented below the graph.

Figure 9.10 Showing a chart within a userform.

inline This workbook, named chart in userform.xlsm, is available on the book’s website.

Understanding Chart Events

Excel supports several events associated with charts. For example, when a chart is activated, it generates an Activate event. The Calculate event occurs after the chart receives new or changed data. You can, of course, write VBA code that gets executed when a particular event occurs.

inline Cross-Ref

Refer to Chapter 6 for additional information about events.

Table 9.1 lists all the chart events.

Table 9.1 Events Recognized by the Chart Object


Action That Triggers the Event


A chart sheet or embedded chart is activated.


An embedded chart is double-clicked. This event occurs before the default double-click action.


An embedded chart is right-clicked. The event occurs before the default right-click action.


New or changed data is plotted on a chart.


A chart is deactivated.


A mouse button is pressed while the pointer is over a chart.


The position of the mouse pointer changes over a chart.


A mouse button is released while the pointer is over a chart.


A chart is resized.


A chart element is selected.


The value of a chart data point is changed.

An example of using Chart events

To program an event handler for an event taking place on a chart sheet, your VBA code must reside in the code module for the Chart object. To activate this code module, double-click the Chart item in the Project window. Then, in the code module, select Chart from the Object drop-down list on the left and select the event from the Procedure drop-down list on the right (see Figure 9.11).

Screenshot shows VBA project page, chart with codes and a drop-down box which selects MouseDown.

Figure 9.11 Selecting an event in the code module for a Chart object.

inline Note

Because an embedded chart doesn’t have its own code module, the procedure that we describe in this section works only for chart sheets. You can also handle events for embedded charts, but you must do some initial setup work that involves creating a class module. This procedure is described later in “Enabling events for an embedded chart.”

The example that follows simply displays a message when the user activates a chart sheet, deactivates a chart sheet, or selects any element on the chart. This is made possible with three event-handler procedures named as follows:

·     Chart_Activate: Executed when the chart sheet is activated

·     Chart_Deactivate: Executed when the chart sheet is deactivated

·     Chart_Select: Executed when an element on the chart sheet is selected

inline On the Web

This workbook, named events – chart sheet.xlsm, is available on the book’s website.

The Chart_Activate procedure follows:

Private Sub Chart_Activate()

    Dim msg As String

    msg ="Hello" & Application.UserName & vbCrLf & vbCrLf

    msg = msg &"You are now viewing the six-month sales"

    msg = msg &"summary for Products 1-3." & vbCrLf & vbCrLf

    msg = msg & _

    "Click an item in the chart to find out what it is."

    MsgBox msg, vbInformation, ActiveWorkbook.Name

End Sub

This procedure displays a message whenever the chart is activated.

The Chart_Deactivate procedure that follows also displays a message, but only when the chart sheet is deactivated:

Private Sub Chart_Deactivate()

    Dim msg As String

    msg ="Thanks for viewing the chart."

    MsgBox msg, , ActiveWorkbook.Name

End Sub

The Chart_Select procedure that follows is executed whenever an item on the chart is selected:

Private Sub Chart_Select(ByVal ElementID As Long, _

  ByVal Arg1 As Long, ByVal Arg2 As Long)

    Dim Id As String

    Select Case ElementID

        Case xlAxis: Id ="Axis"

        Case xlAxisTitle: Id ="AxisTitle"

        Case xlChartArea: Id ="ChartArea"

        Case xlChartTitle: Id ="ChartTitle"

        Case xlCorners: Id ="Corners"

        Case xlDataLabel: Id ="DataLabel"

        Case xlDataTable: Id ="DataTable"

        Case xlDownBars: Id ="DownBars"

        Case xlDropLines: Id ="DropLines"

        Case xlErrorBars: Id ="ErrorBars"

        Case xlFloor: Id ="Floor"

        Case xlHiLoLines: Id ="HiLoLines"

        Case xlLegend: Id ="Legend"

        Case xlLegendEntry: Id ="LegendEntry"

        Case xlLegendKey: Id ="LegendKey"

        Case xlMajorGridlines: Id ="MajorGridlines"

        Case xlMinorGridlines: Id ="MinorGridlines"

        Case xlNothing: Id ="Nothing"

        Case xlPlotArea: Id ="PlotArea"

        Case xlRadarAxisLabels: Id ="RadarAxisLabels"

        Case xlSeries: Id ="Series"

        Case xlSeriesLines: Id ="SeriesLines"

        Case xlShape: Id ="Shape"

        Case xlTrendline: Id ="Trendline"

        Case xlUpBars: Id ="UpBars"

        Case xlWalls: Id ="Walls"

        Case xlXErrorBars: Id ="XErrorBars"

        Case xlYErrorBars: Id ="YErrorBars"

        Case Else:: Id ="Some unknown thing"

    End Select

    MsgBox"Selection type:" & Id & vbCrLf & Arg1 & vbCrLf & Arg2

End Sub

This procedure displays a message box that contains a description of the selected item, plus the values for Arg1 and Arg2. When the Select event occurs, the ElementID argument contains an integer that corresponds to what was selected. The Arg1 and Arg2 arguments provide additional information about the selected item (see the Help system for details). The Select Case structure converts the built-in constants to descriptive strings.

inline Note

Because the code doesn’t contain a comprehensive listing of all items that could appear in a Chart object, we included the Case Else statement.

Enabling events for an embedded chart

As we note in the preceding section, Chart events are automatically enabled for chart sheets but not for charts embedded in a worksheet. To use events with an embedded chart, you need to perform the following steps.

Create a class module

In the Visual Basic Editor (VBE) window, select your project in the Project window and choose Insert ➜ Class Module. This step adds a new (empty) class module to your project. Then use the Properties window to give the class module a more descriptive name (such as clsChart). Renaming the class module isn’t necessary but is a good practice.

Declare a public Chart object

The next step is to declare a Public variable that will represent the chart. The variable should be of type Chart and must be declared in the class module by using the WithEvents keyword. If you omit the WithEvents keyword, the object will not respond to events. Following is an example of such a declaration:

Public WithEvents clsChart As Chart

Connect the declared object with your chart

Before your event-handler procedures will run, you must connect the declared object in the class module with your embedded chart. You do this by declaring an object of type clsChart (or whatever your class module is named). This should be a module-level object variable, declared in a regular VBA module (not in the class module). Here’s an example:

Dim MyChart As New clsChart

Then you must write code to associate the clsChart object with a particular chart. The following statement accomplishes this task:

Set MyChart.clsChart = ActiveSheet.ChartObjects(1).Chart

After this statement is executed, the clsChart object in the class module points to the first embedded chart on the active sheet. Consequently, the event-handler procedures in the class module will execute when the events occur.

Write event-handler procedures for the chart class

In this section, we describe how to write event-handler procedures in the class module. Recall that the class module must contain a declaration such as the following:

Public WithEvents clsChart As Chart

After this new object has been declared with the WithEvents keyword, it appears in the Object drop-down list box in the class module. When you select the new object in the Object box, the valid events for that object are listed in the Procedure drop-down box on the right.

The following example is a simple event-handler procedure that is executed when the embedded chart is activated. This procedure simply pops up a message box that displays the name of the Chart object’s parent (which is a ChartObject object).

Private Sub clsChart_Activate()

    MsgBox clsChart.Parent.Name &" was activated!"

End Sub

inline On the Web

The book’s website contains a workbook that demonstrates the concepts that we describe in this section. The file is events – embedded chart.xlsm.

Example: Using Chart events with an embedded chart

The example in this section provides a practical demonstration of the information presented in the previous section. The example shown in Figure 9.12 consists of an embedded chart that functions as a clickable image map. When chart events are enabled, clicking one of the chart columns activates a worksheet that shows detailed data for the region.

Chart shows region with YTD sales table by enabling chart events and corresponding bar graph. Region includes North, South and West. Greater value is indicated by South.

Figure 9.12 This chart serves as a clickable image map.

The workbook is set up with four worksheets. The sheet named Main contains the embedded chart. The other sheets are named North, South, and West. Formulas in B2:B4 sum the data in the respective sheets, and this summary data is plotted in the chart. Clicking a column in the chart triggers an event, and the event-handler procedure activates the appropriate sheet so that the user can view the details for the desired region.

The workbook contains both a class module named EmbChartClass and a normal VBA module named Module1. For demonstration purposes, the Main worksheet also contains a check box control (from the Forms group). Clicking the check box executes theCheckBox1_Click procedure, which turns event monitoring on and off:

In addition, each of the other worksheets contains a button that executes the ReturnToMain macro that reactivates the Main sheet.

The complete listing of Module1 follows:

Dim SummaryChart As New EmbChartClass

Sub CheckBox1_Click()

    If Worksheets("Main").CheckBoxes("Check Box 1") = xlOn Then

        'Enable chart events


        Set SummaryChart.myChartClass = _



        'Disable chart events

        Set SummaryChart.myChartClass = Nothing


    End If

End Sub

Sub ReturnToMain()

'   Called by worksheet button


End Sub

The first instruction declares a new object variable SummaryChart to be of type EmbChartClass — which, as you recall, is the name of the class module. When the user clicks the Enable Chart Events button, the embedded chart is assigned to the SummaryChart object, which, in effect, enables the events for the chart. The contents of the class module for EmbChartClass follow:

Public WithEvents myChartClass As Chart

Private Sub myChartClass_MouseDown(ByVal Button As Long, _

  ByVal Shift As Long, ByVal X As Long, ByVal Y As Long)

    Dim IDnum As Long

    Dim a As Long, b As Long

'   The next statement returns values for

'   IDnum, a, and b

    myChartClass.GetChartElement X, Y, IDnum, a, b

'   Was a series clicked?

    If IDnum = xlSeries Then

        Select Case b

            Case 1


            Case 2


            Case 3


        End Select

    End If


End Sub

Clicking the chart generates a MouseDown event, which executes the myChartClass_MouseDown procedure. This procedure uses the GetChartElement method to determine what element of the chart was clicked. The GetChartElement method returns information about the chart element at specified X and Y coordinates (information that is available through the arguments for the myChartClass_MouseDown procedure).

inline On the Web

This workbook, named chart image map.xlsm, is available on the book’s website.

Discovering VBA Charting Tricks

This section contains a few charting tricks that might be useful in your applications. Others are simply for fun, or at the very least studying them could give you some new insights into the object model for charts.

Printing embedded charts on a full page

When an embedded chart is selected, you can print the chart by choosing File ➜ Print. The embedded chart will be printed on a full page by itself (just as if it were on a chart sheet), yet it will remain an embedded chart.

The following macro prints all embedded charts on the active sheet, and each chart is printed on a full page:

Sub PrintEmbeddedCharts()

    Dim ChtObj As ChartObject

    For Each ChtObj In ActiveSheet.ChartObjects


    Next ChtObj

End Sub

Creating unlinked charts

Normally, an Excel chart uses data stored in a range. Change the data in the range, and the chart is updated automatically. In some cases, you might want to unlink the chart from its data ranges and produce a dead chart (a chart that never changes). For example, if you plot data generated by various what-if scenarios, you might want to save a chart that represents some baseline so that you can compare it with other scenarios.

The three ways to create such a chart are:

·     Copy the chart as a picture. Activate the chart and choose Home ➜ Clipboard ➜ Copy ➜ Copy As Picture. Accept the defaults in the Copy Picture dialog box. Then click a cell and choose Home ➜ Clipboard ➜ Paste. The result will be a picture of the copied chart.

·     Convert the range references to arrays. Click a chart series and then click the formula bar. Press F9 to convert the ranges to an array, and press Enter. Repeat these steps for each series in the chart.

·     Use VBA to assign an array rather than a range to theXValuesorValuesproperties of theSeriesobject. This technique is described next.

The following procedure creates a chart by using arrays. The data isn’t stored in the worksheet. As you can see, the SERIES formula contains arrays and not range references.

Sub CreateUnlinkedChart()

    Dim MyChart As Chart

    Set MyChart = ActiveSheet.Shapes.AddChart2.Chart

    With MyChart


        .SeriesCollection(1).Name ="Sales"

        .SeriesCollection(1).XValues = Array("Jan","Feb","Mar")

        .SeriesCollection(1).Values = Array(125, 165, 189)

        .ChartType = xlColumnClustered

        .SetElement msoElementLegendNone

    End With

End Sub

Because Excel imposes a limit to the length of a chart’s SERIES formula, this technique works for only relatively small data sets.

The following procedure creates a picture of the active chart. (The original chart isn’t deleted.) It works only with embedded charts.

Sub ConvertChartToPicture()

    Dim Cht As Chart

    If ActiveChart Is Nothing Then Exit Sub

    If TypeName(ActiveSheet) ="Chart" Then Exit Sub

    Set Cht = ActiveChart

    Cht.CopyPicture Appearance:=xlPrinter, _

      Size:=xlScreen, Format:=xlPicture



End Sub

When a chart is converted to a picture, you can create some interesting displays by choosing Picture Tools ➜ Format ➜ Picture Styles. See Figure 9.13 for an example.

Top and bottom screenshots show scatter plots for sales by region where 2 lines for southern and western regions intersect between May and June.

Figure 9.13 After converting a chart to a picture, you can manipulate it by using a variety of formatting options.

inline On the Web

The two examples in this section are available on the book’s website in the unlinked charts.xlsm file.

Displaying text with the MouseOver event

A common charting question deals with modifying chart tips. A chart tip is the small message that appears next to the mouse pointer when you move the mouse over an activated chart. The chart tip displays the chart element name and (for series) the value of the data point. The Chart object model does not expose these chart tips, so there is no way to modify them.

inline Tip

To turn chart tips on or off, choose File ➜ Options to display the Excel Options dialog box. Click the Advanced tab and locate the Chart section. The options are labeled Show Chart Element Names on Hover and Show Data Point Values on Hover.

This section describes an alternative to chart tips. Figure 9.14 shows a column chart that uses the MouseOver event. When the mouse pointer is positioned over a column, the text box (a Shape object) in the upper-left displays information about the data point. The information is stored in a range and can consist of anything you like.

Image described by surrounding text.

Figure 9.14 A text box displays information about the data point under the mouse pointer.

The event procedure that follows is located in the code module for the Chart sheet that contains the chart.

Private Sub Chart_MouseMove(ByVal Button As Long, ByVal Shift As Long, _

  ByVal X As Long, ByVal Y As Long)

    Dim ElementId As Long

    Dim arg1 As Long, arg2 As Long

    On Error Resume Next

    ActiveChart.GetChartElement X, Y, ElementId, arg1, arg2

    If ElementId = xlSeries Then

        ActiveChart.Shapes(1).Visible = msoCTrue

        ActiveChart.Shapes(1).TextFrame.Characters.Text = _

          Sheets("Sheet1").Range("Comments").Offset(arg2, arg1)


        ActiveChart.Shapes(1).Visible = msoFalse

    End If

End Sub

This procedure monitors all mouse movements on the Chart sheet. The mouse coordinates are contained in the X and Y variables, which are passed to the procedure. The Button and Shift arguments aren’t used in this procedure.

As in the previous example, the key component in this procedure is the GetChartElement method. If ElementId is xlSeries, the mouse pointer is over a series. The TextBox is made visible and displays the text in a particular cell. This text contains descriptive information about the data point (see Figure 9.15). If the mouse pointer isn’t over a series, the text box is hidden.

Chart shows table for calculating data point information for regions 1 and 2 during the months January, February and March.

Figure 9.15 Range B7:C9 contains data point information that’s displayed in the text box on the chart.

The example workbook also contains a Chart_Activate event procedure that turns off the normal ChartTip display, and a Chart_Deactivate procedure that turns the settings back on. The Chart_Activate procedure is:

Private Sub Chart_Activate()

    Application.ShowChartTipNames = False

    Application.ShowChartTipValues = False

End Sub

inline On the Web

The book’s website contains this example set up for an embedded chart (mouseover event - embedded.xlsm) and for a chart sheet (mouseover event - chart sheet.xlsm).

Scrolling a chart

Figure 9.16 illustrates the example chart found in the scrolling chart.xlsm sample workbook. This chart displays only a portion of the source data, but it can be scrolled to show additional values.

Scrollable chart shows two waveforms for daily data. Information includes 1 as start day, 360 days and 14 as scroll increment.

Figure 9.16 An example of a scrollable chart.

The workbook contains six names:

·     StartDay: A name for cell F1

·     NumDays: A name for cell F2

·     Increment: A name for cell F3 (used for automatic scrolling)

·              Date: A named formula:



·              ProdA: A named formula:


·              ProdB: A named formula:


Each SERIES formula in the chart uses names for the category values and the data. The SERIES formula for the Product A series is as follows (note the workbook name and sheet name have been eliminated for clarity):


The SERIES formula for the Product B series is:


Using these names enables the user to specify a value for StartDay and NumDays. The chart will display a subset of the data.

inline On the Web

The book’s website contains a workbook that includes this animated chart. The filename is scrolling chart.xlsm.

A relatively simple macro makes the chart scroll. The button in the worksheet executes the following macro that scrolls (or stops scrolling) the chart:

Public AnimationInProgress As Boolean

Sub AnimateChart()

    Dim StartVal As Long, r As Long

    If AnimationInProgress Then

        AnimationInProgress = False


    End If

    AnimationInProgress = True

    StartVal = Range("StartDay")

    For r = StartVal To 5219 - Range("NumDays")Step Range("Increment")

        Range("StartDay") = r


    Next r

    AnimationInProgress = False

End Sub

The AnimateChart procedure uses a public variable (AnimationInProgress) to keep track of the animation status. The animation results from a loop that changes the value in the StartDay cell. Because the two chart series use this value, the chart is continually updated with a new starting value. The Scroll Increment setting determines how quickly the chart scrolls.

To stop the animation, we use an End statement rather than an Exit Sub statement. The Exit Sub doesn’t work reliably in this scenario and may even crash Excel.

Working with Sparkline Charts

We conclude this chapter with a brief discussion of Sparkline charts, a feature introduced in Excel 2010. A Sparkline is a small chart displayed in a cell. A Sparkline lets the viewer quickly spot time-based trends or variations in data. Because they’re so compact, Sparklines are often used in a group.

Figure 9.17 shows examples of the three types of Sparklines supported by Excel.

Chart shows line sparklines, column sparklines and win or loss sparklines from January to June with corresponding fund numbers represented in an excel sheet .

Figure 9.17 Sparkline examples.

As with most features, Microsoft added Sparklines to Excel’s object model, which means that you can work with Sparklines using VBA. At the top of the object hierarchy is the SparklineGroups collection, which is a collection of all SparklineGroup objects. ASparklineGroup object contains Sparkline objects. Contrary to what you might expect, the parent of the SparklineGroups collection is a Range object, not a Worksheet object. Therefore, the following statement generates an error:

MsgBox ActiveSheet.SparklineGroups.Count

Rather, you need to use the Cells property (which returns a range object):

MsgBox Cells.SparklineGroups.Count

The following example lists the address of each Sparkline group on the active worksheet:

Sub ListSparklineGroups()

    Dim sg As SparklineGroup

    Dim i As Long

    For i = 1 To Cells.SparklineGroups.Count

        Set sg = Cells.SparklineGroups(i)

        MsgBox sg.Location.Address

    Next i

End Sub

Unfortunately, you can’t use the For Each construct to loop through the objects in the SparklineGroups collection. You need to refer to the objects by their index number.

Following is another example of working with Sparklines in VBA. The SparklineReport procedure lists information about each Sparkline on the active sheet.

Sub SparklineReport()

    Dim sg As SparklineGroup

    Dim sl As Sparkline

    Dim SGType As String

    Dim SLSheet As Worksheet

    Dim i As Long, j As Long, r As Long

    If Cells.SparklineGroups.Count = 0 Then

        MsgBox"No sparklines were found on the active sheet."

        Exit Sub

    End If

    Set SLSheet = ActiveSheet

'   Insert new worksheet for the report


'   Headings

    With Range("A1")

        .Value ="Sparkline Report:" & SLSheet.Name &" in" _

           & SLSheet.Parent.Name

        .Font.Bold = True

        .Font.Size = 16

    End With

    With Range("A3:F3")

        .Value = Array("Group #","Sparkline Grp Range", _

          "# in Group","Type","Sparkline #","Source Range")

        .Font.Bold = True

    End With

    r = 4

    'Loop through each sparkline group

    For i = 1 To SLSheet.Cells.SparklineGroups.Count

        Set sg = SLSheet.Cells.SparklineGroups(i)

        Select Case sg.Type

            Case 1: SGType ="Line"

            Case 2: SGType ="Column"

            Case 3: SGType ="Win/Loss"

        End Select

        ' Loop through each sparkline in the group

        For j = 1 To sg.Count

            Set sl = sg.Item(j)

            Cells(r, 1) = i 'Group #

            Cells(r, 2) = sg.Location.Address

            Cells(r, 3) = sg.Count

            Cells(r, 4) = SGType

            Cells(r, 5) = j 'Sparkline # within Group

            Cells(r, 6) = sl.SourceData

            r = r + 1

        Next j

        r = r + 1

    Next i

End Sub

Figure 9.18 shows a sample report generated from this procedure.

Chart shows sparkline report procedure generated in an excel sheet which includes group, sparkline, type and source range.

Figure 9.18 The result of running the SparklineReport procedure.

inline On the Web

This workbook, named sparkline report.xlsm, is available on the book’s website.