Create user-defined Custom Charts / Graphs or Chart Templates
Your idea of the Ideal Graph is not Microsoft's idea of the Ideal Graph, so every time you create a new chart, you need to spend a lot of time and mouseclicks converting it from one of the standard graph types to the graph type and formatting you really want.
One way around this is to start with a copy of an already-formatted graph rather than from scratch, but did you know that you can create and store custom graph types and even make a custom graph type the default graph? It's one of PowerPoint's (or actually MSGraph's) best-kept secrets. If you use PowerPoint 2007, click here or scroll down a bit. for PowerPoint MVP Echo Swinford's chart template tutorial.
How to create a custom chart in PowerPoint 2003 and previous
- Start a new blank presentation in PowerPoint
- Choose Insert, Chart to create a new chart on the current slide
- Optional: Change the chart type or other formatting options
- Choose Chart, Chart Type from the main menu bar. This brings up the Chart Type dialog box.
- Click the Custom Types tab of the Chart Type dialog box.
- In the "Select from" area, click "User-Defined"
- Click Add
- Enter a name (31 characters or less) and description for the chart in the Add Custom Chart Type dialog box
- Click OK to return to the Chart Type dialog box
- Optional: Click "Set as default chart" if you want to automatically create a chart like this when you insert a new chart. Click "Yes" when MSGraph asks whether you're sure.
- Click OK to dismiss the Chart Type dialog box and finish
As far as we know, you can create as many custom graph types as you like.
Now when you choose Chart Type, click the Custom Types tab and click "User defined" to see (and choose) your own custom graph formats.
Saving and Sharing Custom Charts
If you use custom chart types, you won't want to lose them if you have to reinstall Office or move to a different computer. You can easily back up the file where they're stored. It's named GRUSRGAL.GRA
You may also be able to share your custom chart types with other PowerPoint users by giving them this file and having them install it in the proper folder (after they back up their own GRUSRGAL.GRA file first), though this isn't supported by Microsoft.
Look for GRUSRGAL.GRA in:
C:\Documents and Settings\[YourUserName]\Application Data\Microsoft\Graph
PowerPoint 2000 and up seem to recognize and use the GRUSRGAL.GRA file if they find it here. If you install a new copy of this file and PowerPoint doesn't appear to see it (ie, you can't choose any of the custom graph types you know are saved in the file) try forcing PowerPoint to create a new GRUSRGAL.GRA file by creating a new custom chart type as described above. Then quit PowerPoint, replace the file it created with your own GRUSRGAL.GRA file, restart PowerPoint and try again.
PowerPoint X stores the equivalent file in Macintosh HD:Users:[username]:Library:Preferences:Microsoft:Graph Chart User Gallery (in other words, from Finder choose Go, Home, Library, Preferences, Microsoft to find the file).
We did a few quick tests and found that renaming this file to GRUSRGAL.GRA and placing it in the proper folder allows the Windows version of PPT to use it. Likewise, copying GRUSRGAL.GRA to the correct folder on the Mac and renaming it to Graph Chart User Gallery allows Mac users to create similar custom graphs. Note that the translation isn't necessarily perfect.
Default Chart Type
You'll normally set the default chart type as described above, but in case you need to deal with it programattically, Graph's default chart type is stored in the registry.
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\x.x\Graph\Microsoft Graph\ or HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\x.x\Graph\Microsoft Graph\Options
in an entry like:
Default Chart = "Standard:4,3 "
x.x is the Office version number ( 8.0 for Office 97, 9.0 for Office 2000 etc)
Standard means "Use one of the charts from Graph's standard charts list
4 means "Use the fourth item on the list"
3 means "Use subtype number 3 of standard chart type 4"
Default Chart = "UserDefined:[NameOfChart]"
where [NameOfChart] is the name you gave the user defined chart format when it was created.
In theory, changing this registry entry should let you control which custom chart format PowerPoint uses for new charts. In practice, it may not always work out well. The user may have to choose a default chart format manually to make it "stick".
In PowerPoint 2007, you can create a chart template. To do so, follow these steps:
- On the Insert tab, click Chart.
- Choose a chart type and format it to look the way you want.
- Select the chart on the slide.
- On the Chart Tools Design tab, choose Save As Template.
- You will automatically be taken to the correct folder.
- Name your chart template and click Save. If you do not have file extensions hidden, you'll see that the CRTX extension for chart templates has been appended to the file name.
To use a chart template, follow these steps:
- On the Insert tab, click Chart.
- Click the Templates folder at the top of the Insert Chart dialog box.
- Choose the chart template from the gallery on the right of the dialog box and click OK.
- The data sheet will open. Modify the default data to match your new chart.
To apply a chart template to an existing chart, follow these steps:
- Select the chart on the slide.
- On the Chart Tools, Design tab, click the Change Chart Type button.
- In the Change Chart Type dialog box, click the Templates folder in the list on the left.
- Click the chart template in the gallery on the right of the Change Chart Type dialog box and click OK.
Note: charts often crash or do not display properly when you apply a chart template to an existing chart. Therefore, we suggest that you apply a template to a duplicate of the existing slide/chart. Better yet, just create a new chart, base it on a chart template, then manually enter or copy/paste your data into it.
Miscellaneous Things to Know
- You can specify a chart template to be the default chart style for new charts by clicking the "Set as Default Chart" button in the Insert Chart dialog box.
- Click the "Manage Templates" button in the Insert Chart dialog box to delete, move, or rename your chart templates.
- Chart templates do not respond to themes. Their formatting is considered "absolute formatting" -- in other words, it is what it is, and colors don't update to match a new color scheme. So if you often use a different theme color scheme, you will need to make chart templates for each color scheme. The same goes for theme font schemes.
- Don't bother putting your own data and column or series labels in the data sheet for the chart template; PowerPoint always starts with its default data.
- If you wish to share chart templates with other users, instruct them to put the *.CRTX files in the appropriate folder:
C:\Documents and Settings\UserName\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates\Charts
Only CRTX files show up in the Insert Chart and Change Chart Type dialog boxes; folders don't display.