Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Combo Charts!

A good Rule of Thumb when making charts is, “If you have to think about what the chart is saying, it isn’t a good chart”. Combo Charts are a very effective way to improve your communication in your Excel Charts.

Although adding a Second Axis is a classic technique that is often applied with Combo Charts, it is not always necessary. For instance, let’s say you want to compare the sales figures for two years, and you want to be able to instantly see which months were more successful and which were less successful. This is quite easily done, and can be enhanced with a bit of thoughtful formatting.

Let’s Look at the Following Example:

1. Create a standard Column Chart using the table below:

2. This will produce the Difficult-to-Decipher (and rather ugly) Standard Column Chart as illustrated below:

3. Right-click once on any single column for the year 2009. This will select all of the columns for that year.
4. You can then select Change Series Chart Type and choose an Area Chart
5. Double-click on your chart, and bring up the Design Tab Tools.
6. Then take a couple of minutes to add some visual appeal by formatting your chart to create an easy-on-the-eyes chart similar to the one below:

That is all there is to it! You can easily create a Combo Chart that will greatly enhance your ability to understand your data and Communicate Effectively with your spreadsheet viewers. Very Cool!

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