I think that the best solutions is to use R with RStudio. ( Python and iPython notebook is an alternative ):
- Data import
- Plotting: ggplot2
- Exporting plots
- Copy-and-paste: RStudio's exports plot functionality
- Programatically: ReporteRs package
There are numerous ways to import excel (tabular) data. For Excel data, the
readxl package provides the easiest and most versatile. It generally gets the variable types correct on import.
Alternatives are to save the file as CSV and re-import. The
readr package is good for this. @Nick Stauner provides perhaps the most basic solution using
read.csv; the limitation is that this requires the additional step of saving a worksheet as a CSV file. This is not great if your data is spread across multiple sheets. It can get tedious though there are VBA programs for saving all sheets as CSV files. Google for them. Another limitation is getting the types of the variables correct. If you use
read.csv, you often have to fix your types after importing in R.
There are a few packages that avoid these problems by allowing you to connect read/write from the spreadsheet directly or by using ODBC. Search on CRAN for excel or odbc to find the relevant one for your situation.
In terms of getting plots into powerpoint, use Rstudio's export plot functions, the copy and paste method using Rstudio is:
export plot >
copy plot to clipboard >
copy as: metafile captures the plot to the the paste buffer allowing you to paste directly into Power Point.
As far as generating plots, R has numerous options. The aforementioned ggplot2 package provides a very powerful interface for creating all sorts of plots. There are additional packages for doing hundreds or thousands of other types of plots/animations/etc. One limitation is that these are often buried in CRAN packages.
An alternative is to use the ReporteRs package.