Now that I'm starting to do a little more research and submitting things for publications, I'm learning just how utterly useless Microsoft Excel is for graphs that aren't destined for screen or online presentations.
Totally and completely useless.
I'm sure this is nothing new to fellow scientists out there. This of course begs the question: Why can't Excel create publication quality* graphs and charts yet? People have been using Excel to do analysis, number crunching and graphing for years and years now ever since it came out. So why doesn't Excel support exporting graphs as a vector based graphics file like EPS (and not just a bitmap rendered as a bunch of PS commands either).
Excel is still an excellent tool for crunching numbers and doing analysis. Lots of functions, easy to do quick data visualization and other things. The graphs it does make are usually pretty decent looking, but when it comes to creating publication quality graphs, fuggedaboutit.
This leaves me with hunting for (free) alternatives to my graph making like R, Octave or Gnuplot . I'm currently using R and Gnuplot for my current project, although climbing the learning curve for both programs is making the going a little bit slow. They are becoming quite useful though.
*Publication quality generally means 300-600 dpi, 7-10 cm long, black/white or grayscale (colour if you can afford to pay for it) or some kind of vector based graphics format like EPS.