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These charts use “” in a logical yet misguided attempt to simulate an empty cell.All charts plunge to zero, and all display a data label showing the value zero.Simulating Empty Cells The main confusion comes along when someone uses formulas to fill the source data range.The problem arises because a formula that links to an empty cell =A1 doesn’t display a blank, it displays the value zero.Plotting With Empty Cells The default behavior for most charts is to treat an empty cell by leaving a gap on the chart.Here are XY and Line charts that show how this looks. You can instead have Excel treat blanks as zeros (which in general is deceiving, since empty cells mean the absence of a value, not a value of zero). You can also tell Excel to interpolate over the missing data point. Purists may say that the interpolation option may cause readers to think there is data along the line that spans the gap.

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What people try to do to fake a blank is return “” in the formula.

=IF(A1=””,””, A1) The result to you and me like a blank, but to Excel, “” is a text string, albeit a short one, and it is therefore assigned a value of zero.

If we change the vertical axis so that the horizontal axis crosses below zero, we see that the first chart has no data point (bar) corresponding to the gap, but the second has a point (bar) with a value of zero.

Area charts seem to offer both the zero and interpolation options, but in both cases, the chart plunges to zero without a corresponding data label.

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