Create impressive dashboard tiles in Excel


If you want to tell the story of how your business / project / charity / thing is going on, then making a dashboard is the best way to go about it. Dashboards can combine heaps of data, insights and messages in to one concise format that fits on to a desktop or table or mobile screen.

But let’s be honest. Creating them in Excel is a lot of work. Even after spending hours on them, they might still look meh. So, let me share a trick to make your dashboards look snazzy (without compromising on insights per inch).

Create dashboard tiles, something like this:

dashboard-tiles-excel

How to create Excel dashboard tiles

Here is a step-by-step process to create dashboard tiles.

1. Calculate necessary numbers and place them in cells

This is simple. Let’s say you want to make a “Total Budget” tile, that reads
Total Budget
$420,500

Let’s assume the number 420,500 is in cell C11.

2. Use TEXT formula to convert numbers to the format you want

If you have a number in cell, you can easily format it any way you want. Since we will be using Text boxes and drawing shapes to show numbers on the dashboard tiles, we will not be able to format them using number format options. Hence we will use TEXT formula to turn a simple number 420500 to $420,500.

=TEXT(C11, "$#,##")

Here are a few TEXT formula examples you can use:

Format you wantInput TEXT formula Output
Currency format420500=TEXT(A1, “$#,##”)$420,500
Currency with cents420500.75=TEXT(A1, “$#,##.00”) $420,500.75
Percentages0.7453=TEXT(A1,”0%”)75%
Percentage with 2 decimal points0.7453=TEXT(A1,”0.00%”)74.53%

Learn more about TEXT formula and format options.

3. Create a tile using drawing shapes in Insert ribbon

Time to let your creative juices flow. Head over to insert ribbon and add a drawing shape (or even an image) to create a tile. Here are few examples if you need inspiration.

blank dashboard tiles...

4. Title the tile tastefully

Now that we have a living breathing tile, name it. Just right click on it and “Edit text” to add a tile. Format it to suit rest of your dashboard theme / fonts. Make sure your title is aligned at bottom or top, as we want rest of the space for actual number. This is how your tile should look at the end.

excel dashboard tiles after adding titles

5. Create a text box and link TEXT() output cell to it

Use Insert ribbon and add a text box. Now select the text box and click on formula bar and point to the cell that contains the tile value. See this quick screencast to understand how to do it.

6. Format text box

This is the secret part. You can format linked text boxes! So select it and use format options (fonts, sizes, shadows etc.) to format it.

formatted text for excel dashboard tile

7. Overlay text box on top of tile

example-excel-dashboard-tiles

Time to flex your finger muscles. We are in for some serious mouse action here. Just drag and drop the text box on top of dashboard tile. Voila, your Excel dashboard tile is ready. If your calculations change, the tile does too. And it looks sleek. How cool is that.

Few more dashboard tile examples

You can use anything on these tiles. Sparklines, tiny charts, conditionally formatting, picture links, photos (really) or more numbers. Just use your creativity and Excel trickery to make these tiles shine. Here are few more examples.

Download Excel Dashboard Tiles – Example workbook

Click here to download Excel dashboard tiles workbook. It has all these tiles, necessary calculations and charts. See the “Making of a tile – steps” to see all the steps for creating such tiles in your workbooks.

Want to make Awesome dashboards? Join Excel School program

If you work in data analysis or reporting roles, dashboard skills are vital for success. This is why I created Excel School program. This in-depth, video-tutorial based course will teach you all the skills needed to create world-class dashboards, like this in just hours.

Example dashboard from Excel School Program

Sales Performance Dashboard

Click here to know more and join Excel School program.

Chandoo

Hello Awesome...

My name is Chandoo. Thanks for dropping by. My mission is to make you awesome in Excel & your work. I live in Wellington, New Zealand. When I am not F9ing my formulas, I cycle, cook or play lego with my kids. Know more about me.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Visit Excel for Beginner or Advanced Excel pages to learn more or may be join my online video class to master Excel.

Thank you and see you around.

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11 Responses to “Create impressive dashboard tiles in Excel”

  1. Pablo says:

    Hello, Chandoo!
    First of all, I want to congratulate you for your love and your dedication to this wonderful tool called EXCEL, which has captivated you as much as I have.
    I dedicate myself to the same thing as you, but here in Argentina, and I feel an enormous empathy with the way in which you approach the solutions and the eagerness with which you do it.
    It is good to know that there is someone in the world who thinks beyond material concepts, or violence or corruption or drugs.
    How many people there do not know that the best drug is to feed the imagination, and grow in thought!
    I send you a big hug !

  2. Duncan Williamson says:

    High quality, as usual, Chandoo and it is good to see you back here after your long sabbatical!

    I like to play around with Sparklines and whilst they can easily stand on their own, in a cell, they can easily be combined with text and colours, symbols conditional formatting and other things too.

    I took your examples from your file and I replaced your "tiny charts" with Sparklines ... both with and without your shapes still in place!

    • Chandoo says:

      Thank you Duncan...

      As you would have realized, sparklines mean not using outer shape (as it will overlap the cell with sparkline), but they will be lot easier to make than tiny charts.

  3. shin a says:

    You Are awesome, Im learning excel because of you. thank you though i cant afford the paid version, i can still learn with the other ones that are free thank you

  4. great information and i am start learning excel past 1 month but not perfect but after your post much better knowledge in excel thank u very much sir.

  5. Jean-Claude Niyoyera says:

    Hi Chandoo,

    First off, thanks for the amazing Excel tips and tricks you share with us. I was looking into the tile dashboards above and wondered how you insert the green and yellow circles in the mini stacked bar chart so that the number of circles corresponds to the actual value. I have been banging my head against walls to get it and am still stuck.

  6. Jean-Claude Niyoyera says:

    Hi Chandoo,

    Please discard my previous question. I have figured out how to do it. Thanks.
    Jean-Claude

  7. Jon Peltier says:

    Pretty impressive, and pretty easy once you know how it's done.

    Just don't forget, a dashboard is supposed to inform, and not impress with the special effects. Keep the tiles relatively simple, so they don't distract from the information they contain.

    These are all impressive without being distracting, by the way.

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