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Archive for September, 2015

Unpivot data quickly with Power Query [tutorial]

Published on Sep 29, 2015 in Pivot Tables & Charts, Power Query
Unpivot data quickly with Power Query [tutorial]

Power Query (Get & Transform data in Excel 2016) is a must have tool, if you wrangle with data every day. Here is a quick introduction, in case you are new.

Let’s learn how to use Power Query to unpivot data.

Essentially, we are trying to go from left to right in the above picture.

Doing something like this thru either formulas or VBA can be very complex. But Power Query can get you unpivoted data in just a few clicks. Sounds interesting? Read on.

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CP045: Introduction to Monte Carlo Simulations in Excel

Published on Sep 24, 2015 in Chandoo.org Podcast Sessions
CP045: Introduction to Monte Carlo Simulations in Excel

In the 45th session of Chandoo.org podcast, let’s get in to Monte Carlo simulations.

What is in this session?

In this podcast,

  • Quick personal updates – 200km BRM and book delay
  • History of Monte Carlo simulations
  • Monte Carlo simulations – an example
  • How to do simulations in Excel
    • Formulas
    • VBA
    • Data Tables
  • Using data tables to run simulations – case study – estimating Pi value
  • Things to keep in mind when setting up your simulation models
  • Resources on Monte Carlo simulations in Excel
  • Conclusions
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How countries spend their money – chart alternatives

Published on Sep 22, 2015 in Charts and Graphs

Econimist’s daily chart is a one of my daily data porn stops. They take interesting data sets and visualize in compelling ways. While the daily chart page is insightful, sometimes they make poor charting choices. For example, this recent chart visualizing how countries spend their money uses a variation of notorious bubble chart. Click on the chart to enlarge.


What is wrong with this chart?

Bubble charts force us to measure and compare areas of circles. Unless you have a measuring tape somehow embedded in your eyes and you are a walking human scientific calculator, you would find this task impossible.

So when you look at the chart and want to find out what percentage Japanese spend on restaurants or how much Americans pay for housing, your guesses will have large error margins.

Not only bubble charts are difficult to read, they are very hard to align. So when you have a bunch of bubbles, no matter how hard you try, your chart looks clumsy (see how the Russian food bubble eats in to Mexico’s bubble, as if it is too hungry 😉 )

Let’s check out a few alternatives to this chart. Read on…

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Show forecast values in a different color with this simple trick [charting]

Published on Sep 16, 2015 in Charts and Graphs
Show forecast values in a different color with this simple trick [charting]

Let’s say you made a chart to show actual and forecast values. By default, both values look in same color. But we would like to separate forecast values by showing them in another color.

If you are a seasoned Excel user, you may be thinking, “Oh, that’s easy. I will just create 2 sets of data (one for actual and one for forecast), make a chart from them and apply separate colors.”

But here is a really simple way to get the same effect.

Use a semi-transparent box to mask the forecast values, as shown above. Read on to learn how to do this.

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Excel Links – Dashboards book delayed edition

Published on Sep 15, 2015 in excel links

Quick update about Dashboards for Excel book:

Dashboards for Excel - advanced Excel, analysis, reporting & automation book from Jordan Goldmeier and Purnachandra DuggiralaAs you may know, my first print book – Dashboards for Excel (co-authored with Jordan Goldmeier) is supposed to release today – 15th September, 2015. But unfortunately, there is some delay with the printing process, so the book is not available yet. Our publisher, Apress, tells us that it can take two more weeks.

Thanks to all of you who pre-ordered this book. I am sorry for this unexpected delay. Just few more weeks and you will be reading it. 🙂

Time for another round of Excel links

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CP044: My first dashboard was a failure!!!

Published on Sep 10, 2015 in Chandoo.org Podcast Sessions
CP044: My first dashboard was a failure!!!

In the 44th session of Chandoo.org podcast, let’s talk about failures.

What is in this session?

In this podcast,

  • Book announcement about Dashboards for Excel
  • Story of my first ever dashboard
  • Important lessons – Requirement Analysis for dashboards
  • Resources for creating awesome dashboards
    • Podcasts
    • Books
    • Courses
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Cropped chart: when some values are too big to fit

Published on Sep 9, 2015 in Charts and Graphs
Cropped chart: when some values are too big to fit

We know that column charts are excellent for presenting information. But what if some of the columns are too tall and hijacking the rest. In a previous article, we discussed few of the approaches. Today let’s learn how to build a cropped chart (broken y-axis chart) using Excel, something like above.

Looks interesting? Read on.

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Case Sensitive Lookups

Published on Sep 7, 2015 in Excel Howtos
Case Sensitive Lookups

We all know that VLOOKUP (and its cousins MATCH, HLOOKUP and LOOKUP) are great for finding information you want. But they are helpless when you want to do a case-sensitive lookup.

So how do we write case sensitive VLOOKUP formulas?

Simple. We can use EXACT formula.

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Weekend poll: Formulas or Pivot Tables?

Published on Sep 4, 2015 in Learn Excel

Time for a quick weekend poll. What is your favorite tool for data analysis?

  • Formulas
  • Pivot Tables
  • Or both

Post your choice in the comments. Also mention the number of years Excel experience you have.

For ex, my answer is: Both (10 years)

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Book Announcement: Dashboards for Excel is launching on 15th September

Published on Sep 3, 2015 in Charts and Graphs, Learn Excel

I have an exciting announcement to share with you. My first ever print book – Dashboards for Excel, co-authored with Jordan Goldmeier is releasing on 15th September.

Dashboards for Excel – what is it?

As the name suggests this book is a handy guide for anyone preparing dashboards, management reports and business intelligence workbooks using Excel. The key benefits are,

  • Learn the visualization tools, charts, tables, and graphs important to management.
  • Understand what management doesn’t want to see in a report
  • Turn around dashboards faster and cheaper than ever before
  • Understand the key role dashboards play in an organization
  • Analyze real-world dashboards to apply important features to your own organization
  • Utilize understated, but powerful, Excel formulas and VBA code
  • Avoid common pitfalls in Excel development and dashboard creation
  • Get started with the Excel data model, PowerPivot, and Power Query

As you can see, this is an advanced Excel book with lots of examples, case studies and practical tips.

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Thank you for making Awesome August a success

Published on Sep 1, 2015 in personal

Wow, what a month it has been. In August 2015, I announced Awesome August, an Excel festival. I published 31 articles, one for each day of August to make you awesome in your work. We had  3 podcasts, 11 videos, 17 articles and 238 comments in August. This content is consumed by more than 50,000 people from all over the world (3% of site traffic visited Awesome August pages). There were lots of emails, tweets and facebook posts telling me how you are enjoying Awesome August.

Thank you so much for taking time to learn from Chandoo.org and making Awesome August a success.

I made a short (5 mins) video to share the journey and to say thanks to you personally. Please watch it below.

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