Wednesday, August 17, 2016

MicroGraphs Rock!

Let’s face it, Not Everyone has a current (or even near-current) version of Excel. This is particularly true in many corporate settings, since not all companies see the value in upgrading our favorite spreadsheet program.  As you may know, “Sparklines” first appeared in Excel 2010, and are for many Excel users, a quick and easy way to graphically demonstrate their data without much work.  Sparklines make it a breeze to create readily-intelligible micrographs within the cells of your Excel spreadsheets that highlight important details of your data. 

But what if you use an older version of Excel, you ask?  Can I still make cool, little micrographs in my workbooks?  Yes, You Can!

A very effective way to make these engaging little graphs is to incorporate an unusual and diminutive Formula along with a splash of Conditional Formatting.  Let’s take a look at how this can be done…

Let’s say you have a Crack Sales Team in your company, and you want to graphically show their results without going to the trouble of creating a bunch of individual charts. Using the illustration below, put the Producers of your company’s products in Column A, and in Column B put the Units Sold each producer has sold. Here is the super-simple formula you should put in Cell C2 (and then copy it to C8):

= REPT( “l” , B2/1,000) 
For each Approximate Count of One Thousand, the formula puts an old-fashioned Hash Mark, (using a bold, simple font, such as Trebuchet or Arial works well), in Column C. With a bit of cool Conditional Formatting to add color, the result is a clean, professional report that integrates MicroGraphs!

Using these elementary graphs makes your data Visually Comprehensible and enhances the user’s understanding of what is being said in your Excel reports.
Try it out sometime if you are using a pre-2010 version of Excel, (or even if you are using a more contemporary version), and see what you think. They really do Rock!

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