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Narrating the story of change using Excel charts – case study



Here are three questions you often hear from your boss:

  1. What changes are happening in our business and how do they look?
  2. Do you know how to operate this new coffee machine?
  3. Why does every list has 3 items?

Jokes aside, our urge to find change in environment predates cave drawing, slice bread and Tommy Lee Jones. So, today let’s examine a very effective chart that tells the story of change and re-create it in Excel.

How fast America changes its mind – Example chart

Here is a recent chart from Bloomberg, depicting how America has changed its mind about various social & political issues between 1787 & 2015. (Read the full article on Bloomberg)


Applying these concepts to sample business data

Of course, our business data won’t span two and half centuries. So let’s look at something more realistic, like market share changes for 7 product categories over the last 15 years.

Here is a chart we will create in Excel.


Narrating change over time story with Excel charts – Video tutorial

If you like the above chart, watch below video to learn how to create it. As the process is somewhat elaborate, I made a video explaining various steps and techniques. Watch it below (or click here to see it on our YouTube channel)

Download the Change over Time Excel Chart:

Please click here to download the workbook for this chart (Excel 2013 Version).

Please click here to download the workbook for this chart (Excel 2007/10 Version).

Examine the chart, formulas & formats to learn more.

How do you tell the story of change?

My favourite methods for narrating the story of change are,

What about you? What charts & techniques do you use to narrate the story of change using Excel? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments area.


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13 Responses to “Narrating the story of change using Excel charts – case study”

  1. Jared says:

    I get "[CELLRANGE]" all over the graph in the demo workbook. Is this a setting I have an excel or something related to how the graph was built?

  2. Chandoo says:

    Thanks Hui. I forgot to mention the 2013 part.

  3. Andrew says:

    "Of course, our business data won’t span two and half decades. "

    Should that be 2 and a half centuries? makes it sound much grander ...

  4. Rishil says:

    The market share changes was a good example to share.. Thanks. I believe Flash is an excellent technology for dealing with data visualization, and now there are tools online that can help you to create flash charts online for free.. try this http://askwiki.blogspot.com/2009/07/how-to-create-quality-charts-using.html

  5. Alida says:

    Hi Chandoo,

    I urgently need a template for Debtor Age Analysis with possible predictions / forecasts.

    Can you please assist?

    Kind regards,

  6. ANAND says:

    Dear Chandoo,

    It is an excellent Graphical Analysis. No doubt Excel is " EXCEL ". We got imputes for data analysis by reading this blog.

    Have sharing !

    With regards.

  7. Fred says:

    Hi Chandoo,

    I think the formular could be simplified to =VLOOKUP(999,OFFSET(C$23,0,0,INT($K23/2+1.5)),1,TRUE)



  8. King Khan says:

    Awesome tools are available. Love it 🙂

  9. Jorge Cabral says:

    Hi Chandoo,

    I think the formula is not totally correct, or I did not quite understand the reading of this type of chart, like this:

    If in "Category 1" in "July-02" I put for example "1.5%", cell "C24", in cell "M23", corresponding to "January-02", should not appear the value of "0 , 0% ", and only in" July-02 "would it be" 1,5% "?


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