Improve Excel charts, even removing 3D styles, with Clean Charts

The “Clean Charts” tool turns hard-to-read Excel charts into Tufte-compliant wonderworks in a single click.

Features: It removes “chart-junk” (the contrast-reducing light grey background, extraneous lines * Formats the axes with easy to read numeric formats (22000 becomes “22k”) * Changes series colors to an optimally chosen set that are designed for maximum contrast and readability * Removes 3D from the chart. 3D charts introduce distortions that make it hard for people to understand your numbers. * Fixes axis scaling problems. * Fixes font and marker sizes to make them readable if you have resized your chart

To try Clean Charts you need in Excel to have macros on (go to Tools, Macro, Security. Select Medium security level. Close the workbook and re-open it. On re-opening, when Excel gives the security warning that asks if you want to enable macros, choose “Enable Macros”.)

The add-in puts a menu item in the Format menu. If you have a chart already selected it will say “Clean this chart…” otherwise, it says, “Clean all charts…”. Select the option and you’ll get a number of ways to clean and simplify the chart.