Excel Charts, Graphs and Templates

Tutorials, Examples and explanations on Excel charting. You can learn how to create almost any chart type in this section. Also learn how to create effective charts, make them interactive and add automation thru VBA

Bar chart with lower & upper bounds [tutorial]

Bar chart with lower & upper bounds [tutorial]

Bar & Column charts are very useful for comparison. Here is a little trick that can enhance them even more.

Lets say you are looking at sales of various products in a column chart. And you want to know how sales of a given product compare with a lower bound (last year sales) and an upper bound (competition benchmark). By adding these boundary markers, your chart instantly becomes even more meaningful.

Lets learn how to create a column chart with lower & upper bounds in this tutorial.



Top 10 things I learned using Excel for a decade

Top 10 things I learned using Excel for a decade

Sometime during the 2nd half of 2013, I finished 10 years of Excel usage. In the last 10 years, I completed my studies, got my first job, married, had kids, visited 15 different countries, quit my job to start a business, bought first car, first house, made dozens of new friends, read 100s of books, wrote a book and learned 1000s of new things. And all along, Excel stayed a true companion. Right from MBA entrance exam preparation in 2003 to making my summer internship project reports in 2005 to planning my wedding expenses in 2007 to getting a promotion in 2009 to planning my kids feeding schedule in 2010 to running a successful business in 2014, Excel helped me in every step.

So today, I want to tell you the top 10 things I learned using Excel in last decade. Grab a hot cup of coffee, buckle your belts and get ready for time travel.



Creating Triangular Plots using Excel

Creating Triangular Plots using Excel

Triangular plot…! What is it?

Recently, a Chandoo.org forum member asked this,

‘I want to be able to make a graph that, in some aspects, looks like below, but I have no idea how to do it at all.’

After seeing it, I said to myself in Barney Stinson’s tone, ‘Challenge Accepted!

The final plot looks like above. Read on to learn how this is made.



Thank you Sachin [a small tribute]

Thank you Sachin [a small tribute]

Lets talk about people who inspire us. People who show us that anything is possible. People who prove that commitment, hard work and perseverance are true ingredients of a genius.

I am talking about Sachin Tendulkar. Those of you who never heard his name, he is the most prolific cricketer in the world. He is the leading scorer in both tests (15,921 runs) and one day matches (18,426 runs). Read more about him here.

Tendulkar has been an inspiration for me (and millions of others around the world) since I was a kid. The amount of dedication & excellence he has shown constantly motivates me. It is a pity that the great man is retiring from test cricket. He is playing his last test match (200th, most by any person) as I am writing this.

So as a small tribute, I have decided do something for him. Of course, I have never been a cricketer in my life. Once in college I was reluctantly asked to be a stand-by player in a game with seniors. I did not get a chance to pad up though. That is the closest I have been to a cricketer. So I did what I do best. Create an Excel workbook celebrating Sachin’s test career.

Thank you Sachin – his test career in a dashboard

Here is a dashboard I made visualizing his test cricket statistics. It is dynamic, fun & awesome (just like Sachin).

(click on the image to enlarge)

Sachin Tendular 200 Tests - Visualized in an Excel Dashboard



Closing gaps in this Gender Equality Gap chart…

Closing gaps in this Gender Equality Gap chart…

Today lets close some gaps.

Recently I saw this interesting chart on Economist Daily Charts page. This chart is based on World Economic Forum’s survey on how women compare to men in terms of various development parameters. First take a look at the chart prepared by Economist team.

So what are the gaps in this chart?

This chart fails to communicate because,

  • All country charts look same, thus making it difficult to spot any deviations.
  • We cannot quickly compare one country with another on any particular indicator.
  • It does not provide a better context (for eg. how did these countries perform last year?)

But criticizing someone’s work is not awesome. Fixing it and making an even better chart, that has awesome written all over it. So that is what we are going to do. You can see the improved chart above. Click on it to learn how you can create it.



5 simple rules for making awesome column charts

5 simple rules for making awesome column charts

For every column chart that is done right, there are a dozen that get messed up. That is why lets talk about 5 simple rules for making awesome column charts.

Tip: Same rules apply for bar charts too.



How to create a Then vs. Now interactive chart in Excel?

How to create a Then vs. Now interactive chart in Excel?

You have been there before.

Trying to compare last year numbers with this year, or last quarter with this quarter.

Today, let us learn how to create an interactive to chart to understand then vs. now.

Demo of Then vs. Now interactive chart

First, take a look the completed chart below. This is what you will be creating.



Never use simple numbers in your dashboards (bonus tip: how to fix default conditional formatting)

Never use simple numbers in your dashboards (bonus tip: how to fix default conditional formatting)

Pop quiz: What is wrong with above report?

At first glance, it looks alright. But if you observe closely, you realize that it is not telling the entire story. Just looking at regional sales numbers, you have not much clue what is going on with them.

So how to improve it?



Are you ready for 2,000 miles, 15 days & 10 Excel tips road trip?

Are you ready for 2,000 miles, 15 days & 10 Excel tips road trip?

Finally my Excel classes in USA are over. It was a lot of fun traveling to new cities, teaching Excel & dashboards to enthusiastic crowds and making new friends. As if that is not fun enough, we (Jo, kids & I) are going on a 2,000 mile, 2 week road trip starting today.

Although I am enjoying all this, I also feel bad for not taking enough time to share new tricks, ideas & techniques with you here. So, I have a wacky, wild & awesome plan for you. Join us on our road trip.

That is right. You can join me on our road trip and see what I see, learn some pretty cool Excel tricks, all while sipping coffee and stretching legs in the comfort of your office cubicle.



How to create a column chart with background image in Excel ?

How to create a column chart with background image in Excel ?

Tony sends this chart and asks if it can be done in Excel.

It sounded like a good challenge for a lazy Sunday morning. So here we go. (Posting it on Monday).

Now I could not get an oil rig photo or that data. So I made up few numbers and used a photo of Flinders street station I took when I was in Melbourne last year.



10 Rookie mistakes to avoid when making dashboards [video]

10 Rookie mistakes to avoid when making dashboards [video]

Are you making these 10 rookie mistakes when creating dashboards?

Watch below to video to understand what these mistakes and how to avoid them.

10 Rookie mistakes to avoid when making dashboards [23 mins]

10 Rookie mistakes to avoid when making dashboards - watch the video



How to create an Interactive Chart in Excel? [Tutorial]

How to create an Interactive Chart in Excel? [Tutorial]

Imagine you have a worksheet with lots of charts. And you want to make it look awesome & clean.

Solution?

Simple, create an interactive chart so that your users can pick one of many charts and see them.

Today let us understand how to create an interactive chart using Excel.



Chart for wall hygrometric physic (or how to create a chart with custom x axis intervals?)

Chart for wall hygrometric physic (or how to create a chart with custom x axis intervals?)

Livio, one of our readers from Italy sent me this interesting problem in email.

I would like to prepare an xy linear graphic as representation of the variation of temperature trough a wall between two different bulk temperature i.e. outside and inside a house. This graphic should show the temperature gradient trough the wall thickness. The wall is normally made by different construction materials (different layers, as bricks, insulation, …..) and so the temperature change but not as a straight line with only one slope, instead as few lines with different slopes (see below figure) Calculations are not difficult, and also prepare the graphic also not difficult.

But, I am looking a beautiful solution for x-axis. X-axis should be divided not with constant interval, instead with different length between each sub-division exactly as the different thickness of the wall. This is a correct graphic, because you can show the correct slope of each straight line though each layer of the wall.



Learn Top 10 Excel Features

Learn Top 10 Excel Features

Last week, we had a lovely poll on what are your favorite features of Excel? More than 120 people responded to it with various answers. So I did what any data analyst worth his salt would do,

I analyzed the data and here are the top 10 features in Excel according to you.

Read on to learn more.



Some charts try to make you an April fool all the time (or why 3d pie charts are evil)

Some charts try to make you an April fool all the time (or why 3d pie charts are evil)

Recently I saw a big screaming ad that said “the chartbuster rules”. Of course, I know that chartbusters rule. Not just because I was one of them :)

So I got curious and read on. And I realized the ‘chartbuster’ is actually a car, not some cool, spreadsheet waving, goatee sporting dude like Jon Peltier. What a bummer!

And then to my horror of horrors, I saw the exploding 3d pie chart, with reflection effects & glossy colors. And the sole purpose of the chart is to create an impression that Verna sells better than any car in India.

Today, lets talk about this chart and alternatives for it. Read on.



How to create interactive calendar to highlight events & appointments [Tutorial]

How to create interactive calendar to highlight events & appointments [Tutorial]

One of the popular uses of Excel is to maintain a list of events, appointments or other calendar related stuff. While Excel shines easily when you want to log this data, it has no quick way to visualize this information. But we can use little creativity, conditional formatting, few formulas & 3 lines of VBA code to create a slick, interactive calendar in Excel. Today, lets understand how to do this.



10 things that wowed me in Excel 2013

10 things that wowed me in Excel 2013

As you may new, the newest version of Excel is out for a while. I have been using it since last 6 months and enjoying it. Today, lets understand 10 things in 2013 that wowed me (and probably you too).



There is an Easter egg in this chart!

There is an Easter egg in this chart!

Do not worry, you are not time traveling or seeing things. Its just that, this year I have decided to publish our Easter Egg a few days early.

And oh, I have 3 reasons for it:

  1. 2 of my favorite festivals – Easter & Holi (a festival of colors, celebrated in India) are this week. Holi is today (Wednesday) & Easter on Sunday.
  2. My kids are super excited about Holi as this is the first time they will be playing it. So we have family time from today until Wednesday and I do not feel like writing a blog entry on Friday :)
  3. I like to have 3 reasons for everything.

Hence the Easter Egg is advanced a few days. But it is just as fun (or may be better) as previous Easter eggs.



Use Advances vs. Declines chart to understand change in values

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 above, Advances vs. Declines chart tells us how many items have advanced & how many have declined.

Read on to learn how to create this chart using Excel.



Shading above or below a line in Excel charts [tutorial]

Shading above or below a line in Excel charts [tutorial]

When comparing 2 sets of data, one question we always ask is,

  • How is first set of numbers different from second set?

A classic example of this is, lets say you are comparing productivity figures of your company with industry averages. Merely seeing both your series as lines (or columns etc.) is not going to tell you the full story. But if we can shade our productivity line in red or green when it is under or above industry average… now that would be awesome! Something like above.