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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

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\
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".

Custom Charts in PowerPoint 2007

In PowerPoint 2007, you can create a chart template. To do so, follow these steps:

To use a chart template, follow these steps:

To apply a chart template to an existing chart, follow these steps:

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

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Create user-defined Custom Charts / Graphs or Chart Templates
Last update 07 June, 2011