Chart Recessions and Other Boolean Conditions in Excel

Each fat line in this chart indicates when a recession has occured for the specified country. You can use the same method to show other Boolean conditions.

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Each fat line in this chart indicates when a recession has occured for the specified country. You can use the same method to show other Boolean conditions.I doubt you’ve seen an Excel chart like this before. It shows multiple Boolean conditions that might affect the trend in the annual Rate of Change (ROC) of US GDP.

I set it up to hint at the degree to which international recessions affect the US economy. But you could use the same design for other purposes.

For example, the black line could indicate your company’s sales, and the fat lines could indicate: When specific advertising programs ran. When a version of a product was on the market. When a hurricane occurred. When Covid-19 began. Etc.

Each fat line in this chart indicates when a recession has occured for the specified country. You can use the same method to show other Boolean conditions.

From an Excel perspective, this is an easy chart to set up. You set up all five lines to display the same data as the black line. But for the fat lines, your formulas return #N/A whenever its country is NOT in recession, or having a hurricane, or whatever.

This type of chart wasn’t possible until several years ago. Until then, the NA function caused charts to bridge the gap between other non-NA values. But now, we can choose whether to do that, or to leave a gap.

To do so, first select a line chart. And then, in the Chart Design, Data group, choose Select Data, Hidden and Empty Cells, and then choose the settings you want.