Excel Charting Hacks #1

The other day I had to make some graphs about revenues and profits of a set of companies. While doing it I wanted to use bar chart with bars of profit and revenue overlapping. But when I mentioned the revenue as 3000 and profit as 1500, the graph would show up something like this. As you can see the totals are adding up to 4500 where as the company is making only 3000.

I thought changing the revenue figures to revenue-profit would solve the problem. It did solve the bar height problem, but it did create a new problem. Now the revenue is represented as 1500 instead of actual number 1500.

I think this is a pretty common usage of charts, so I am sharing a work around (not really, but I would like to show off) for this. Remove the data labels for the series 2 (revenue). Add a new data series with actual revenue values to the chart (right click, ‘source data’->’add series’). Now this new series would be stacked on the top of profit, revenue-profit values. Just set the background and border property for this to ‘none’ and set the data-labels for ‘values’. Adjust the alignment to ‘Inside bar-base’ and you have something like this.

Oh, you might want to re adjust the axis scale to original one in case its screwed up because of the new series. Happy visualization.


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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.

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2 Responses to “Excel Charting Hacks #1”

  1. Jon Peltier says:

    If you make a stacked column chart, the value of each series is plotted above the preceding series. If you make a clustered column chart, each value is plotted next to the preceding series. In a clustered chart, you can adjust the overlap, so that the second series moves in front of the first. This can be deceiving, because someone reading the chart may not realize that the value of the taller column starts at zero instead of the top of the series in front. Therefore you may want to use an overlap of 50 instead of 100.

  2. Juan says:

    Do you have the workbook to download and know how to do it? Thanks in advance!

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