The selection of the materials in this section highlight the most essential tools and options of creating charts in Macrobond application.
Introduction to charting - overview video
Transcript (click to expand)
[01 General introduction - what is charting?]
In this video, we’ll introduce you to a few of the main elements of charting before going into more detail in the next steps of the curriculum. When it comes to charting, two things are important to our users:
the first is being able to clearly and persuasively present data,
and the second is being able to create these presentations quickly.
Some of the features that contribute towards these aims are intuitive point and click editing, a variety of chart styles to choose from, and customized style sheets, just to name a few. All in all, you’re saving time and getting your point across effectively.
[02 "Point and click" approach]
Point and click functions on the principle that any element of a chart you click on will activate the editing options for that element, in the command bar above. As you can see, when we click on the chart heading the presentation properties tab becomes active – here - and any changes made are instantly applied.
[03 Alternate scale and date range intro]
Besides adjusting the more cosmetic chart properties like color or font, you can easily modify properties such as scale and date range on the axes.
[04 Adding an alternate scale and date]
The same point and click principle applies, whether you’re adding an alternate scale or changing the date range.
[05 Additional chart modifications – adding horizontal line]
Besides the fundamental formatting options you also have the option to emphasize certain aspects of a chart. For example to draw attention to specific points you can add text annotations, markers or labels. For this chart, we might like to add a horizontal line at a specified value, you can do it manually, or just specify the precise position, here.
[06 Graph layout]
Now let’s look at the presentation styles I mentioned before, you’ll find them in the graph layout options. There are numerous reasons to make these changes of course, but in this case the chart might just be more impactful if we apply an area graph style for Industrial production, for example. Not bad, but it would be better if the graph line for ISM PMI weren’t partially hidden. So we’ll just fix that by adjusting the order. As you can see, the tools have been designed to be very intuitive to use.
[07 Fill range]
Let’s take a look at one last feature that will help you highlight a particular angle in a data – in this case recession bands will work nicely.
[08 Final comments]
This video should give you a good understanding of the logic of charting in the application, and an overview of some of the main features you can make use of. For more detailed coverage of the available tools, as well as step by step guide and tutorials have a look at the next stages of the curriculum.
Displaying data on a chartUsing the Fill range charting function - video
Transcript (click to expand)
[01 Introduction to Fill range function]
Fill range is a function that fills a segment of a chart with color, based on a defined range or sequence of dates. In this video, we’ll look at when to use a fill range, how to create a custom fill range, how to save a particular range for future use and how to add recession bands.
[02 When to use Fill range]
A fill range can be used to draw attention to a segment of the charted data, like this. Alternatively, you can use the fill range function to create an additional layer of information. In this example. We’ve added a fill range corresponding to periods of recession, creating recession bands that provide context for interpreting the chart. Once you’ve specified a custom range you can also save it if it’s something you’re likely to use again.
[03 Adding Fill range to chart - 1]
Let’s start by adding a fill range to a chart. Right click on the chart and select fill range from the context menu. You can also use the keyboard shortcut, Ctrl+F.
[04 Adding Fill range to chart - 2]
You’ll notice that the entire chart is filled because we haven’t defined a range yet. To do so click on the add button to define the settings for the fill range. To define more than one range, just click on add again.
[05 Customizing the Fill range]
To customize the range, you can specify a start and end point. In the start field, the first observation for the specified date will be used. In the end field, the last observation for the specified date will be used. For example, entering 2010 in start, and 2011 in end, will give you a fill range from the first observation for 2010, to the last observation for 2011. If you hold your cursor over the start or end fields, you’ll activate a tooltip describing different options for inputting the start and end points for the range.
[06 Customizing the color]
The default color for the fill range is based on your default stylesheet. To change the color, simply check custom, here, and select a color using the drop down menu or the advanced settings.
[07 OK and Export buttons]
Before finishing off let’s look at the buttons at the bottom of the dialog box. Use cancel to void the task, and ok to complete it and go further. The export button allows you to save the range you just created for quick access in the future. Simply select the account you’d like to save it to, and give it a name.
[08 Import button and Using pre-defined Fill range]
To access pre-defined and saved ranges click on import. You can either select from ranges created by you and your colleagues, or from a list of ranges defined by Macrobond.
[09 Recession bands - 1]
A quick way to apply recession bands to your chart is to select from the list in the Macrobond library. What you have here is a list of pre-defined ranges based on periods of recession in different countries. Where relevant, the source is referenced in parentheses. Ranges without a source listed are calculated by Macrobond.
[10 Recession bands - 2]
Let’s select the US recession range from NBER, and press ok. As you can see, there is a new row for every date range corresponding to a period of recession in the US. You can customize these ranges in the same way as before. When you’re done, click OK, to complete the task.
In the graph layout options, you’ll find a button that allows you to add additional panes to a chart.
Additional panes are useful for:
- Presenting multiple time series clearly, in a single chart
- Presenting time series on more than two different scales
How to add a pane
- Open the Graph layout dialog
- Click on the Add pane button
- Drag-and-drop the time series, below the new pane section
There is no limit to the number of panes you can add. All panes, except the first one can be deleted.
By default, when you add a series to a document, the series is automatically visualized in your chart(s). So, what do you do if you want to continue adding series to a document without having them appear in your completed chart? Simply switch off the default setting for the chart in question, and continue adding series.
How to stop series from being added to a chart
- Click on the background of the chart
- Select the Presentation properties tab
- Click on the More button in the Chart elements group
- Click on Include new series automatically to deselect the setting
Using in practice
As you can see, this setting is chart specific. That way you can continue to create new charts without having to manually add the series to them. Just make sure to switch off the settings every time you finish a chart if you want to keep adding series to your document.
When building a chart, it may be useful to display time series on distinct axes. A typical use-case is when series are expressed in different units. The time charts you build in the application have two axes that series can be assigned to. This article will provide you with a quick overview of the alternate scale feature, as well as what to keep in mind when using it.
Setting the alternate scale
Like most of the charting functions, you start by clicking on a graphic element, a line or column for example, to select which series you want to work with. The alternate scale setting is found in the command bar, under the presentation properties tab.
You can also select which series should be shown on an alternate scale when working in the graph layout dialog.
Alternate Scale and Synchronizing axes
Using the Synchronize settings will affect the way in which the alternate scale is displayed. Below we go over the outcomes of combing these settings, below.
- Alternate Scale + Synchronize: None
Each axis has an independent scale and independent grid.
- Alternate Scale + Synchronize: Grid
Each axis has an independent scale, but both axes will share the same grid. You can’t adjust the step length of the axes, only the scale range.
- Alternate Scale + Synchronize: Values
Each axis will share the exact same scale and grid, which will void the outcome of applying an alternate scale.
Editing text elements of the chartAdding Annotations to a Chart
Using annotations will help you direct attention to the most important aspects of a chart, helping the reader to clearly identify what is relevant.
Under the chart annotations tab, you’ll find:
- Inks – a free-hand option for highlighting portions of your chart
- Chart ornaments – defined shapes or text boxes you can place anywhere in the graph area
- Annotations – labels and lines that can be added to a particular value on the x and/or y axes
Inks don’t need much explanation, so we’ll focus on going through a quick description of chart ornaments and annotations.
Ornaments are added independently of any value in a chart and moved freely
- As a text box
- As a line
- As an arrow
The size and position of an ornament can be adjusted manually, by clicking and dragging.
If you shorten the date range of the x axis, resulting in a closer view of the graph lines, the text box will not move to accommodate the change.
How to add ornaments?
- Select the ornament type from the command bar
- Draw-out the ornament in the graph area, to an appropriate size
- Move it to an appropriate position if necessary
When to use ornaments?
- When you want to add a general note
- When you want to highlight something that is not related to a single value in the chart
Annotations are added relative to particular values in a chart:
- As a vertical line, associated with a value on the x axis
- As a horizontal line, associated with a value on the y axis
- As an observation, associated with a value coordinate, on both the x and y axes
If you changed the scale of the y axis in the image below, the horizontal line would move with its reference value.
How to add annotations?
- Select the annotation type from the command bar
- Click on a relevant position in the graph area, to add the annotation
When to use annotations?
- When you want to specify which values to add annotations to
- If you plan to update the data in a chart, or make adjustments to the x or y axes, using annotations will ensure that the annotations you add remain in the correct position
Opening charts in a separate window - video
Transcript (click to expand)
[01 Why to use Presentation documents?]
In the command bar of the application you’ll see a button with a P on it, this allows you to present charts in a separate window. Besides being the first step in compiling a presentation of charts there are two other benefits to be had. You can use it to quickly open and compare a number of different charts. And you can use it as a viewing pane to monitor the changes to your chart as you make adjustments to time-series calculations. In this video, we’ll go through a quick use case for how to use the present button for these added benefits.
[02 Use case example – Covariation]
Let’s say we want to define the length of a rolling correlation, in a way that will best convey a particular point.
[03 Opening a chart in a separate window]
Click on the present button in the command bar, or use the Ctrl+Q keyboard shortcut.
[04 Performing changes in the analysis using information from the 2nd window]
With the chart open in a Presentation document window we can see how the visualization is affected as we specify different lengths for the rolling correlation, and adjust the settings until we get the desired results.
[05 Comparing two charts]
Before you finish off, you might want to compare this chart with another. Simply open the relevant document, we’ll take the one that’s already open here select a chart in the Analysis tree and present it in a new window.
As you can see, there are a few different ways you can make use of the present button to make it easier to work with charts. If you’d like to learn more about creating Presentation documents have a look at the suggested materials at the bottom of the page.