All articles in 'Cool Infographics & Data Visualizations' Category

Mapping Spread of Obesity [Chart Critique and Alternatives]

Mapping Spread of Obesity [Chart Critique and Alternatives]

Over at Flowing Data, Nathan has published an interesting visualization about spread of obesity.

While the above chart is quite interesting, it doesn’t offer much insight in to the data. There are a few drawbacks,

  • Understanding obesity trends for a given state over the years is hard due to the layout and format of the chart.
  • Finding which states are experiencing most obesity growth rates is not possible
  • Ironically, the chart itself is obese. It takes too much space to explain the data.

Nevertheless, the chart looks cool and can be reused with smaller data-sets (quarterly trends or just for a few years). So let’s recreate the same in Excel. While we are at it, let’s also build an alternative visualization to explore the obesity data.

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Visualizing Financial Metrics – Contest Winners

Published on Sep 23, 2016 in Cool Infographics & Data Visualizations
Visualizing Financial Metrics – Contest Winners

Its party time! A while ago, we ran a contest asking you to visualize financial metrics data. We got 30 awesome entries. Today let’s reward the winners.

But first a quick note: Congratulations to all the entrants. I have learned a lot just by playing with your files and exploring them. Thank you so much for taking time to share your knowledge with all of us.

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Visualizing target vs. actual progress – Biker on a hill chart

Visualizing target vs. actual progress – Biker on a hill chart

Over the years, we have discussed a whole heap of techniques to visualize budget vs. actual charts. Today let’s take a ride on this slope again and learn another fun, silly & awesome way to depict target vs. actual progress.

Introducing biker on a hill chart


Biker on a hill!?! Don’t worry, I didn’t fall down on a descent and lose my brain. I am talking about an Excel chart to visualize target vs. actual progress on a time line with biker on a hill analogy. See the above chart, you will know.

Looks interesting? Read on to learn how to create this in Excel.

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Apply Conditional Formatting using Slicers

Apply Conditional Formatting using Slicers

Have you ever wondered about applying different Spreadsheet Formats or Styles to reports which you may be send to different people and so the styling may be different for each recipient?

I haven’t, but in this post I will show how you can add it to your worksheets.

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Advanced Interactive Charts using Excel [Master Class]

As announced earlier, here is the first one of our Master Classes. In this one, you will learn how to create advanced interactive charts in Excel by blending pivot tables, slicers, timelines, VBA, conditional formatting and charts. The final outcome is BEAUTIFUL!!! Monthly Master Class – Episode 1 – Trailer Check out a quick trailer of the […]

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Tell all versions of truth [Dashboard Best Practice]

Here is a simple but effective rule for your next dashboard. Tell all versions of truth. All versions? But there is only one version no? Of course, there is only one version of truth (or data), but you can present that in different ways, thus creating different perspectives, offering different insights. By using an interactive element (slicers […]

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“How Trump happened” in Excel [visualizations]

“How Trump happened” in Excel [visualizations]

During last week, an alert reader of our blog, Jørgen emailed me a link to “How Trump happened“.  It is an interactive visualization by Wall Street Journal. Jørgen asked me if we could replicate the visualization in Excel. My response: “Making a new chart in Excel? Hell yeah!”

Read on for awesome visualizations and full explanation.

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Analyzing half a million complaints – Customer Satisfaction Scorecard [Part 3 of 3]

Analyzing half a million complaints – Customer Satisfaction Scorecard [Part 3 of 3]

This is the final part of our series on how to analyze half a million customer complaints. Click below links to read part 1 & 2.

  1. Complaint reason analysis – Part 1
  2. Regional trends & analysis – Part 2

Customer satisfaction scorecard

In the previous parts of this case study, we understood what kind of complaints were made and where they came from (states). For the customer satisfaction scorecard, let’s focus on individual companies.

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Analyzing half a million customer complaints – Regional Trends [Part 2 of 3]

Analyzing half a million customer complaints – Regional Trends [Part 2 of 3]

This is part two of our three part series on how to analyze half a million customer complaints. Read part 1 here.

Analyzing Regional Trends

As introduced in part 1, our complaints dataset has geographical information too. We know the state & zip code for each complaint. Please note that zip codes are partial or missing for a 10% of the data.

In this article, let’s explore three ways to analyze regional trends.

  1. Regional trends by state, product & issue
  2. Complaints per million by state
  3. Complaints by zip code
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KPI performance charts & dashboards – 43 alternatives (contest entries)

KPI performance charts & dashboards – 43 alternatives (contest entries)

Hello all, prepare to be amazed! Here are 43 creative, fun & informative ways to visualize KPI data.

About a month ago, I asked you to visualize KPI data. We received 65 entries for this contest. After carefully reviewing the entries, our panel of judges have discarded 22 of them due to poor charting choices, errors or just plain data dumps. We are left with 43 amazing entries, each creatively analyzed the data and presented results in a powerful way.

How to read this post?

This is a fairly large post. If you are reading this in email or news-reader, it may not look properly. Click here to read it on

  1. Each entry is shown in a box with the contestant’s name on top. Entries are shown in alphabetical order of contestant’s name.
  2. You can see a snapshot of the entry and more thumbnails below.
  3. The thumb-nails are click-able, so that you can enlarge and see the details.
  4. You can download the contest entry workbook, see & play with the files.
  5. You can read my comments at the bottom.
  6. At the bottom of this post, you can find a list of key charting & dashboard design techniques. Go thru them to learn how to create similar reports at work.

Thank you

Thank you very much for all the participants in this contest. I have thoroughly enjoyed exploring your work & learned a lot from them. I am sure you had fun creating these too.

So go ahead and enjoy the entries.

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A simple trick to make your dashboards user friendly [video]

Whenever you have a dashboard that is quite long or spans across multiple worksheet tabs, it can be hard to use. Here is a simple trick to make your dashboards user friendly. If your dashboard has form controls, create duplicate sets of them and place them in locations where users are looking. For example, If your […]

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Narrating the story of change using Excel charts – case study


Here are three questions you often hear from your boss:

  1. What changes are happening in our business and how do they look?
  2. Do you know how to operate this new coffee machine?
  3. Why does every list has 3 items?

Jokes aside, our urge to find change in environment predates cave drawing, slice bread and Tommy Lee Jones. So, today let’s examine a very effective chart that tells the story of change and re-create it in Excel.

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Download today – Introducing Excel Dashboard Templates from

Download today – Introducing Excel Dashboard Templates from

Friends and readers of, my newest download, Excel Dashboard Templates are available for your consideration. Click here if you are ready to get them. Read on to know more.

What are Excel Dashboard Templates?

As the name suggests, these are ready to use Excel templates for creating awesome, informative, easy to understand & quick dashboards with your data. You just enter your data, set up few calculation options, decide how your dashboard should look & bingo, a beautiful & insightful dashboard will be created for you. These dashboards are optimized to look great, convey key information & prompt correct action.

Who should buy these templates?

Analysts, managers, reporting professionals, business owners & executives. These templates are designed to help anyone preparing Excel based dashboards, scorecards or KPI reports.

Benefits for you

  • Design awesome dashboards in minutes, not months: Don’t waste hours trying to figure out formulas, chart settings and layouts. Instead focus on what your users want, how your business works and use those insights to tell the ‘Excel Dashboard Template’ what you want. Save time and look awesome.
  • Accommodate change elegantly: People change. Businesses change. What your boss wanted last month is no longer what she wants today. So when someone asks you, “hmm, can you show me YTD data instead of last 13 months”, or “Can I see top 10 KPIs instead of all”, you just smile and tap a few clicks and bingo, the new dashboard will be ready. These templates are designed to handle change (data, requirements, design preferences and insights).
  • Beautiful & Informative: These templates are designed with a delicate balance of beauty & insight. Everything is seamlessly designed, perfectly aligned and precisely calculated so that you & your boss can focus on the insights & decisions. Time tested and well honored visualization principles & guidelines are observed thru-out the reports.
  • Built for starters, built for pros: Whether you are just starting with Excel or a seasoned pro, you can find the templates right up your alley. For advanced users, we have many customizations to whet your appetite. Want to build a custom calculation or include another type of sorting, you can do it by tinkering with ‘calculations’ sheet.
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A better chart to visualize “Best places to live” – Top 100 cities comparison Excel chart

Recently, I saw this chart on Economist website.

It is trying to depict how various cities rank on livability index and how they compare to previous ranking (2014 vs 2009).

Best cities to live - Chart from

As you can see, this chart is not the best way to visualize “Best places to live”.

Few reasons why,

  • The segregated views (blue, gray & red) make it hard to look for a specific city or region
  • The zig-zag lines look good, but incredibly hard to understand % changes (or absolute changes)
  • Labels are all over the place, thus making data interpretation hard.
  • Some points have no labels (or ambiguous labels) leading to further confusion.

After examining the chart long & hard, I got thinking.

Its no fun criticizing someones work. Creating a better chart from this data, now thats awesome.

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A dashboard to visualize this FIFA worldcup [guest post]

This is a guest post by Krishna, a football lover & one of our readers.

The wait for lifting the most valued priced in football for Germans was finally over. For a football fan, world cup is best time that is scheduled every four years and that if your favorite team lifting the trophy is like your crush is going on a date with you. 🙂

A sneak-peek at the final dashboard

Here is the final dashboard (it has more functionality than depicted). Click on it to enlarge.

FIFA 2014 Worldcup Excel dashboard

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