Let's say I have a summary row that says Sales, which itself is the sum of the Widgets, Nuts, and Bolts rows.

To chart the break down of Sales by Widgets, Nuts and Bolts, I have to chart the 3 rows together, potentially calculate percentages. But I really want the break down of Sales, right? So I should be able to select that row, and chart it by components.

I guess that I'm not understanding the concept either, because it seems like both the discrete and summing functions have been familiar features in spreadsheets (and their resultant charts and graphs) even prior to Lotus 1-2-3 in the 1970s. What kind of program are you using that will not aggregate a range of rows or columns or both?

//and traceback is impossible//...Well, that's not actually so, at least not the way I remember using Lotus. When you hovered your cursor over a product cell, it not only displayed the numeric product, it could also display the entire formula using each specified cell address that was written to derive that product.

lookit, you've got a spreadsheet, composition: Columns titled Widgets, Nuts, Bolts and Date.... yes ? and possibly another Column which is either a sum of W+N+B (which is pointless) or a "Sales Total for this Day" which is (W*Wprice + N*NPrice + B*BPrice) which makes a bit more sense, or if you're in a company of any size you have a 3rd dimension composed of your customers or the different types of sales of each item (sold singly at x, sold in lots of 100 for y)... stuff like that.

MAybe I am missing something, but, my goal is to click on the Sales row. If I chart it across months, I get a line graph. I want an area graph instead, which is composed of the layers that sum up to Sales. I can of course rearrange the spreadsheet, or graph the component lines directly. What I want is to select the Sales row, and have those charting options be available without having to do those things.

(get somebody to) write a macro and either stick it in a blank cell on your spreadsheet with a pretty graphics button on top to activate it when clicked, or put it into a "snippets.txt" file from which you can cut'n'paste when you desire.

This sounds like a "meta macro" or some other buzzword I just made up which I don't know if spreadsheets can handle: something to the effect of...

You could read the function in that cell, and iterate through each reference in order to populate various numbers, but how does excel know what to label them? If you have a formula for Total Sales that's =SUM(these_sales) + SUM(those_sales) + SUM(that_one_aswell), how does Excel know how to represent the single/multicel ranges identified by these_sales, those_sales and that_one_as_well?

And what if you have formulae that use (Excel specific here, but I expect there are similar implementations of these in other products) VLOOKUP, INDEX, or (dear God) INDIRECT - halls of mirrors, deeper into the looking glass etc..

And, if you are using Excel - I wouldn't be surprised if (shudder) pivot tables already provide some of this sort of functionality.