PowerPoint Tip: Editing old graphs in PowerPoint 2007/10

One of the major changes between PowerPoint 2003 and PowerPoint 2007 is the way that graphs are created. In PowerPoint 2003 and earlier versions, graphs were created by using a module called Microsoft Graph. Starting in PowerPoint 2007, you now use Excel to create graphs, which makes more sense since most of the data for graphs comes from an Excel spreadsheet. The challenge is that the old graphs and the new graphs don’t have the same format.

Even though they may look very similar, a graph in PowerPoint 2003 is very different than a graph in PowerPoint 2007. If you try to edit a PowerPoint 2003 graph in PowerPoint 2007, you will find that all of the new options are missing and you only have access to a limited set of options that mimics the older approach to creating graphs. You can recreate the graph from scratch, but that could be a lot of work.

My suggestion is to convert the old graphs to the new format. Double-click on the graph in PowerPoint 2007 and you will see a dialog box asking you if you want to convert the graph or not. I suggest you select the option to convert all the graphs in the file, since this will save you the time of having to double-click on every graph individually. It may take a little while to do the conversion, especially if you have a lot of graphs in the presentation.

After conversion, you may notice some slight differences. I’ve noticed that sometimes the text shifts very slightly. I think it is because they have adjusted some of the default spacing for some of the graph elements. Once the graph is converted, you have all of the new graph tools available for use, which make it easier to customize the appearance of the graph.

If you save the file in the older PowerPoint 2003 file format, your graph will be converted to the previous format and you may notice some slight appearance differences. The new graph features will be lost and if you want to edit the graph in PowerPoint 2007, you will have to convert it again. You may want to stick with saving the file in the current format since older versions can still read the new file format and you won’t lose any changes you’ve made to the graph.

This is one of the tips I covered in my webinar on Creating Effective Graphs. If you’d like to get a solid foundation on how to create graphs, you can get the recording here. Later this week I’ll be holding a webinar on Advanced Graph Techniques for those who are familiar with the basics and want some ideas to take their graphs to the next level. You can get all the details of what I’ll cover here (you can pre-order the recording if you are unable to make the live session on Thursday).