The default settings in Excel spit out pretty terrible looking charts. But it’s not too difficult to turn something like this:
Into something more like this:
Note the specific steps for the transformation:
- The move from a legend to direct labeling
- The reduction of excessive axes lines and tick mark labels to reduce visual clutter
- Highlighting the data of interest and de-emphasizing the others
- Adding the headline, text, and source
Follow this tutorial from Storytelling with Data to see the step-by-step guide that took the default graph style to its more refined, and ultimately more effective, finished state.