Charts are great way to tell story about what is going on in your business. But they also feel a bit too impersonal and meh. How about adding your personality to them? I don’t mean making them tall, dark and pretty. I mean using hand-drawing style to make them pop out. Something like this example of hand-drawn chart:
The best thing is, You don’t need to actually draw these charts by hand. We can use a powerful charting trick to get these charts automatically generated (and linked) to your data. Interested? Read on to learn how to create hand-drawn charts in Excel.
Hand-drawn charts – Set up your data
Let’s say you have some data like this:
Add 2 more columns so that you can split the data in to Head & Rest like this:
Make a regular stacked column chart from your data
Select head & rest columns and insert a normal stacked column chart. Make sure head is on top of rest. You will get this:
Time to get drawing – create head & body images
Using your favorite drawing program (MS Paint / Power Point / Paint.Net or good old Excel itself), make a column drawing. Use the free form scribble tool from Insert > Shape to create these drawings in Excel or Power Point. See this demo:
How to create a hand-drawn column or bar in Excel?
Crop and split the drawing in to head & rest:
Once you made the drawing, paste it in to Excel as an image. Using Format ribbon, crop this in to head & tail as shown below:
Replace the column fill with images now – Ctrl+C Ctrl+V time…
Time to use the most important shortcuts in the world. CTRL+C and CTRL+V.
- Copy the head image from your drawing (CTRL+C)
- Select head series in the chart
- Paste (CTRL+V)
That is all. Your hand-drawn chart is ready. Share it with a colleague or boss and see them drool.
More hand-drawn inspiration for you…
Here are few more examples of what you could achieve with this technique.
Hand-drawn bar chart:
Hand-drawn line chart:
Caution: Don’t go overboard
I am a big fan of story telling with charts. While I appreciate the flexibility and possibilities Excel (and other tools like Power BI) offers, I strongly recommend that you do not go overboard with formatting charts. When used in moderation (or for a particular situation) these charts can evoke a laugh, thought or both. But when used in excess or out-of-place these can look silly. You have been warned.
See the entire thing in 90 seconds
Check out this recipe style video (with peppy background score) to re-cap all the key steps for creating hand-drawn charts.
You can also watch this on Chandoo.org YouTube Channel.
Download hand-drawn charts template
Click here to download free template with a few charts. Paste your data to get the charts or use the images elsewhere.
More creative charting techniques for you…
If you liked this hand-drawn chart, you will love below examples too:
Twisted column charts (E90E50 Charts)
Tried your hand at hand-drawn charts?
Excuse the pun. How did it go? Did it draw crowd’s attention? Share your story and examples in the comments.