One of the annoyances of charts is that they all look like boxes (except for pie charts, they just look wrong). Boxes might be ok when you are making 1 or 2 charts. But a whole dashboard of boxes can look little rigid. So how can we make the charts peppy without loosing any effect? Like these charts below:
Very simple, we use drawing shapes in MS Excel to draw whatever we want and overlay the chart on top.
See this 3 step tutorial.
Step 1: Make the chart
This is simple, just make the chart and remove the background color. Also adjust series colors so that they look good when you combine the chart with drawing shape.
Step 2: Make the drawing
Go to Insert > Shapes (in excel 2003, select drawing toolbar and draw a shape) and insert some shapes. Arrange them so that you get desired effect.
Step 3: Put Chart on top of Drawing
This is simple. Just drag the chart on to the shape (s). If needed “send shapes to background”. That is all.
Download Example Charts
There are millions of possibilities when using shapes. Try something new for your next dashboard or report.
Note: Shapes can add clutter if you overdo them. Remember, the purpose is to let readers focus on the chart, not on shapes.
Additional material on excel dashboards.