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Excel Charts, Dashboards, & Visualization Tools

All about Excel dashboards, charts, Camera objects (linked pictures), colors, drawing objects, and other Excel visualization tools and techniques.

For help about worksheet functions that summarize data for charts & dashboards, see All Excel Worksheet Functions, with Links to Help Topics. And for help with formulas that use these functions, see Excel Formulas, Data, Tables, & VBA

Excel Forecasting

How to Create a Rolling Forecast of Seasonal Sales in Excel


The variability experienced by companies seasonal sales makes it difficult to forecast them. In fact, it's hard to picture any method that could generate a reliable sales forecast that has a pattern like the one shown here. But there's no problem if you know how to generate a seasonal index.

Charts for Managers

How to Create Cycle Plots in Excel to Chart Seasonal Sales Data

If you have seasonal sales, or seasonal other measures of performance, Cycle Plots can offer greater insight into your performance than traditional charting techniques.

Charts for Dashboards

Add Cycle-Plot Charts to Your Excel Dashboards

Cycle-plot plug-in for Excel dashboards. 

If you have Version 2 of either IncSight DB2 or IncSight QnE, you can use the Cycle-Plot Plug-In to add a cycle-plot chart to your Excel dashboard reports.

Excel Databases

Map Your Financial Health with an Excel DuPont Dashboard

DuPont-Chart Dashboard in Excel

Management reporting is all about communication. Reporting Return On Equity (ROE) is a case in point.

The ROE financial ratio is a key measure of financial health. But to non-financial managers, the ROE can be difficult to understand, for two reasons...

Chart Techniques

Highlight Normal Results in Line Charts to Make Exceptional Results Stand Out

A formatted line chart with a path defined by the standard error of the estimate.If you highlight the standard error on each side of the trend in a line chart, you'll help to make exceptional results stand out.

To calculate the standard error you use the STEYX worksheet function.

Introducing the Power of Year-Over-Year Performance Charts in Excel

Excel dashboards of all kinds...for managers, marketers, operations, economics, and more.

The gray line plots the year-over-year growth in the unemployment ratio. Because its value is less than one, it shows that the unemployment rate is falling. By plotting this YOY growth rate we see that the rate of improvement is falling. Learn more by clicking the chart.

Excel Charts, Seasonality, & Analysis: Five Lessons from the WSJ

Use this calc-plot Excel chart to help decide whether to cut your prices.

An article in the Wall Street Journal about winter babies offers some great advice about charts for Excel users in business.

Samples of Excel Dashboard Reports

Excel dashboards of all kinds...for managers, marketers, operations, economics, and more.

Excel may be the best product there is for dashboard reporting. To see why, view our collection of Excel dashboard reports created by both readers and by Charley Kyd.

Should You Raise or Lower Prices?

Use this calc-plot Excel chart to help decide whether to cut your prices.

If you raise prices, sales could fall, bringing less profit than before. If you cut prices, sales must increase to compensate for your smaller profit margins. What should you do? Excel can help.

US Economic-Overview Excel Dashboard Report for Managers

Top section of the US Economic Overview Excel Dashboard with an Excel chart of employment trends

The top section of the US Economic-Overview Excel dashboard.

Three Tips that Help Readers Interpret Chart Trends Correctly, Using High-Quality, Dynamic Text

Excel text boxes with jaggies and without jaggies.

Remove jaggies in rotated text using one tip.

Which Offers More Business Insight? Dashboards? Or Normal Excel Reports?

A typical Excel report vs an Excel dashboard.

The purpose of any report is to give its readers the most useful information in the least time. Which report best achieves this purpose?

Create Cycle Plots in Excel to Chart Seasonal Sales Data

An Excel chart showing how seasonal data normally is displayed.

This is how seasonal data normally is displayed. But cycle plots offer much greater insight about the underlying trends of seasonal data.

Compare Metrics by Category Using Excel Dot Plot Charts

An Excel chart showing dot plots that can compare many categories quickly.

Use little-known Excel chart tricks to compare many categories of performance data...clearly.

Down With Gauges!

A typical gauge chart for managers.

This large image shows just one result. Such a waste of space! There are better ways.

How to Create Normal Curves with Shaded Areas in New Excel

Excel chart of a normal curve.

Even if you don't care much about statistics, you might find these techniques useful when you create other charts.

Map Costs and Sales in Excel with a Classic Breakeven Chart

Excel breakeven chartHere's how to set up a breakeven chart in Excel, one that illustrates how your costs vary with your monthly sales.

 

How to Chart Recessions in Excel

Excel chart of Dell revenues in the context of US recessions.

You can help readers to better understand long-term performance if you add indicators of recession to your Excel charts. Here's how.

Compare Performance to Yes-No Conditions in Excel Charts

Excel chart of Dell revenues in the context of recessions in three major trading areas.

Chart your performance in the context of yes-no events like ad buys, recessions, new designs, new managers, etc.

Add Class to Your Reports with Excel Drawing Objects

Are you tired of reporting results in ordinary Excel tables? Here's how to add some class to your reports while learning more about Excel's little-known features.

How to Chart Multiple Trend Lines

The red line in this Excel chart shows Apple’s revenues. The gray line shows the overall trend. But the two short trend lines do a better job of describing Apple’s actual performance.

Sample Excel Dashboards

A Hospital Administrator Shows How Excel Dashboards Improve Outcomes

"In healthcare, there has been a lot of attention recently paid to patient safety, quality improvement, and measurement," a hospital administrator wrote. "I'm using your Excel dashboard method to apply towards quality improvement teams as well as to general indicators."

Excel Dashboard Templates

New! Plug-N-Play Excel Dashboard Reports Linked to an Excel Database

IncSight DB, Version 2, includes 20 dashboard report workbooks all linked to an Excel database. Each period, just update your Excel database and then print your reports.

Data Visualization

Dashboard gauges are still a terrible idea!

"Your product doesn't even cover gauges," a customer fumed when she asked for a refund. That's right, because gauges are still a terrible idea. Here's why.

Dashboard History

The World's First Excel Dashboard Report

Excel dashboard reports have been around a lot longer than you might think. Here are four reports from the early years of spreadsheets. While display techniques in Excel dashboards have changed some in the past 25 years, the most significant change has been "under the hood".

• 1986 -- The world's first spreadsheet dashboard report, with Lotus 1-2-3.

• 1990 -- The world's first Excel dashboard report.

• 1992 -- Excel dashboard report showing public financial data.

• 1993 -- Excel dashboard report that Tektronix used to demonstrate their printers.

Bad Practices

Oh, No! Chart Junk from The Wall Street Journal!

For years, The Wall Street Journal has been a reliable source of high-quality charts and tables. But now, they occasionally offer junk charts that no Excel user should emulate.

Management Reporting with Charts

Explore Business Performance Using Small Charts in Excel

When you compare measures of performance to other measures, you add context that can offer significant insight. We use data about public companies to illustrate the process.

Bad Practices

Good Examples of Bad Charts: Chart Junk from a Surprising Source

For years, I’ve written that we Excel users should create “magazine-quality” charts for our reports and analyses. However, even good publications can go bad.

Management Reporting with Charts

How to Create Dynamic Chart Legends in Excel

Dynamic chart legends change as your data changes. Here's how to create them in your Excel charts and dashboard reports.

REPORTING STRATEGIES

When Should Large Companies Use "Real" Dashboards and Excel Dashboard Reports?

Most large organizations already own "real" dashboard software. So why are so many of their Excel users buying Kyd dashboard reports for Excel?

BUSINESS INSIGHT

Which Offers More Business Insight? Dashboards? Or Normal Excel Reports?

The purpose of any report is to give its readers the most useful information possible, in the shortest time possible. Which type of report best achieves this purpose?

Management Reporting with Charts

Track Public Confidence Daily

Here's how to chart an accurate indication every day about how optimistic or pessimistic the public is about future economic performance.

Management Reporting with Charts

How to Create Excel Traffic Lights with Charts and Text

Wouldn't it be useful if your reports could highlight exceptional performance automatically...using charts? In fact, Excel provides such outstanding traffic-lighting power.

Bad Practices

Examples of Pablum Dashboard Displays

Pablum is a processed cereal for infants that the Mead Johnson Company introduced in 1931. Many of the people who design business dashboards act like they were trained by the same company.

Management Reporting with Charts

Introducing Excel Dashboards for Management Reporting

Dashboard reporting allows readers to step back from the messy details to see the trends and relationships that really matter in your company.

Management Reporting with Charts

How to Add Web Data to Your Excel Dashboard Reports

Excel dashboard reports typically show internal data. But you can easily add public data that managers need.

Management Reporting with Charts

How to Create Excel Traffic Lights with Charts and Text

Wouldn't it be useful if your reports could highlight exceptional performance automatically...using charts? In fact, Excel provides such outstanding traffic-lighting power.

Year-to-Date Reporting

Show Useful Year-to-Date Variance Charts in Your Excel Dashboards

Using charts to display year-to-date spending variances can clarify budgets, spending, and variances. But using the wrong type of chart can make your charts virtually useless.

Business Analysis

Should You Raise Prices? Should You Lower Them? These Excel Charts Can Help You Answer Those Questions

If you raise prices, sales could fall, hurting profits. If you cut prices, sales must grow to compensate. Excel can help you decide what to do.

Management Reporting

Common-Age Excel Charts Compare Sales Performance

You can use Excel charts to track how quickly new products or new stores ramp up their performance compared with similar launches in the past.

Excel Color Management

Display Any Colors in Excel 97-2003

Excel 2003 offers only 56 colors in its standard palette. Even so, you can create Excel reports that use any colors you want. Here's how...

 





Dashboard Reporting With Excel


IncSight DB Excel Dashboards


Charley's SwipeFile charts


IncSight QnE Excel Dashboards