Tools - Illustrator chart catalogue

Illustrator chart catalogue

Adobe Illustrator provides a wide range of charts. However, in order to make the charts suit your needs, you will need to customize them. This requires moving from the default style to the UNHCR brand. The whole process can be time-consuming and tedious, so we developed the UNHCR Illustrator Chart Catalogue. It includes common charts already following the style recommendations from the UNHCR Data Visualization Guideline. Using the chart catalogue will allow you to more easily and quickly create charts and infographics using Illustrator. Follow the steps below to start creating your own charts. (To follow along with this tutorial, basic knowledge of using Illustrator is required.)

Create graphs with your own data

  • Choose an appropriate graph type from the Catalogue. To learn more about how to choose the best graph for your data and message, see the Chart Gallery.
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  • All the graphs in the catalogue are chart objects and connected to a dataset that can be updated.
  • Use the Graph Data window to update the default data set with your own data set for the graph. See below to better understand how to edit data in the Graph Data window.
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  • To open the Graph Data window for the existing graph: select the entire graph with the Selection tool (Illustrator tool icon 1), and then right-click on your graph and choose ‘Data....’. Once you do so, the Graph Data window will appear on the screen and stay open until you close it.
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  • To update the data in Graph Data window, you can either select the cell and input the data to replace the existing ones or, copy clean data directly from a spreadsheet and paste it in the Graph Data window.
  • Graph data must be arranged in a specific order, which varies by chart type. So, we recommend you first organize your data in the spreadsheet in the same way as the default data set in the Graphic Data window.
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  • Click the Apply button (Illustrator tool icon 1) to apply the data and update the graph.
  • Close the Graph Data window after finishing the graph data editing.

Things to keep in mind while formatting your data in Excel:

  • Add double quotes, “ ” to the labels consisting of dates such as Year, otherwise they will be considered as Integer (number). For example, enter "2021" to use the year 2021 as a label.
  • Remove the thousand separator “,” for the figures as they will be considered as String (text) by illustrator.

Handle graph labels

  • If you want to generate a legend for the graph, delete the contents of the upper‑left cell (B) and leave the cell blank. And then enter labels for the different sets of data in the top row of cells (A). These labels will appear in the legend. When using the Chart catalogue, you don’t want Illustrator to generate a legend as there’s already a pre-styled one for those which require a legend. Therefore, don’t enter any data labels in the top row of cells (A).
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  • Enter labels for the categories in the left column of cells (C). Categories are often units of time, such as days, months, or years, or country names. These labels appear along either the horizontal axis or vertical axis of the graph.
  • To create line breaks in labels, use the vertical bar key “|” to separate lines. For example, type South|Sudan to create the following graph label.
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Format and customize graphs

Illustrator allows you to format graphs in a variety of ways. For example, you can change the colour, typeface, and typestyle; move, reflect, rotate, or scale any or all elements of the graph. The UNHCR Chart Catalogue has minimized this process with pre-defined design. Even though small customizations are usually required in the end in order to make the graph fully meets your needs.

Scale graphs

  • Select the entire graph using the Selection tool (Illustrator tool icon 2).
  • Do one of the following:
    • Choose Object > Transform > Scale or double-click the Scale tool (Illustrator tool icon 2) and specify the desired values in the Scale dialog box.
    • Select the Scale tool (Illustrator tool icon 3) and drag anywhere in the document window until the object is the desired size.

Select graph element(s)

  • Use either the Direct Selection tool (Illustrator tool icon 4) or the Group Selection tool (Illustrator tool icon 5) to select elements of a graph. An Illustrator graph is a grouped object that is related to its data. To edit a graph element, you will need to select the element using the tools mentioned above without ungrouping the graph. We highly recommend that you don’t ungroup the graph object, as you will then lose the connection with the data and won’t be able to update your chart anymore if new data comes in.
  • Click one time to select the element (one of x-axis labels) you want to select.
  • Without moving the Group Selection tool pointer from the element, click again. All the grouped elements (all x-axis labels) will be selected. Now you can edit them all together, for example moving position and changing font size.

You can learn more about Illustrator’s tools here.