Use Advances vs. Declines chart to understand change in values
Lets say you are responsible for sales of 100s of products (which belong to handful of categories). You are looking at sales of each product in last month & this month. And you want to understand whether sales are improving or declining by category. How would you do it?
Turns out, this is not a difficult problem. In fact, this question is asked every day & answered using Advances vs. Declines chart.
You may have seen this chart in financial newspapers or websites. Shown below, Advances vs. Declines chart tells us how many items have advanced & how many have declined.
When should you use Advances vs. Declines chart?
As you can see, advances vs. declines chart does not give low level details about actual movement of values. Instead, it gives you a sense of what is going on. Use it in below situations:
- To get a feel of how values have changed over time.
- When you are dealing with data that constantly changes (sales, number of customers, defects etc.)
Create Advances vs. Declines chart in Excel
You can easily create this chart in Excel from raw data. Just follow below tutorial.
Step 1: Get the data & arrange it
You need at least 4 columns of data – item, category, previous value, current value
Once we have these, calculate % change in 5th column. Arrange data like below:
Step 2: Calculate Category-wise summaries
First list all unique categories in a column. Then using COUNTIFS formula, calculate the number of products declining & advancing.
The formula to count number of products going down by more than 10% is,
=COUNTIFS(Sales[category], Category name, Sales[% change], “<10%”)
Step 3: Calculate % break-ups for the chart
Once all the numbers are calculated, you can easily calculate the % split.
NOTE: Make sure you negate the % values for declines. This will ensure that our chart shows stacked bars on both sides of axis.
Step 4: Create a stacked bar chart from this data
Once all the numbers are in place, just select them and create a stacked bar chart. Your output should look like below:
Step 5: Adjust chart series order if needed
You may notice that, our stacked chart bars are not in correct order. Excel would have plotted <10% and >10% series before <0% and >0% series. To fix this:
- Right click on the chart
- Go to Select Data
- Now, select the series area
- Using up / down buttons adjust the order of series
See this demo to understand:
Step 6: Adjust the colors & format the chart
Unleash your creativity and format the chart as you see fit. Make sure you add legend (otherwise the chart becomes very difficult to read).
And you are done!
Download Advances vs. Declines chart template
Click here to download the chart template. Examine the formulas & chart settings to understand this better.
Do you use Advances vs. Declines chart?
I use variations of this chart often in my dashboards & reports. These charts are very concise and present a lot of information about distribution of changes.
What about you? Do you use advances vs. declines charts? How do you create them? Share your experiences & techniques using comments.
Looking to advance your charting knowledge?
If you want to one up your Excel awesomeness quotient & create kick-ass charts, then you are at the right place. Check out below tutorials & see how deep the rabbit hole goes:
- Visualizing tax changes over time using Excel
- Index Charts – to understand change over time
- Use Box plots to understand distribution of values
- Visualize monthly changes using Pivot Tables + Conditional formatting
Recommended: If all these sound exciting, you will incredibly benefit from our Excel School program, where we teach advanced charting & data analysis skills. Click here to know more & join us.
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