Friday, October 21, 2011

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Understanding All Kinds Of Charts In Excel | Go Beyond The Basic Chart Type

Excel comes with lots of chart types, including column, line, pie, and so on. However, many of you ask how to make other kinds of charts, such as floating column charts, Gantt charts, combination charts, organization charts, flow charts, hierarchy charts, histograms, or Pareto charts

Floating column charts

A floating column chart is great for comparing the low and high levels in a value range, represented by the bottom and top of the floating columns, as you can see in this daily blood sugar level ranges chart.

For the chart below, I create a stacked column chart from two data series on the worksheet. The first data series measures to the lowest value of each daily blood sugar range and the second data series measures the actual blood sugar level range that I want to display in the chart. Then I hide the first data series to simulate a floating effect.

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This floating column chart shows daily blood sugar level ranges.

Gantt charts

I can use the same method to create a Gantt chart that displays the sequence of a few tasks I have scheduled. For this chart, I'll use a stacked bar chart that has two data series. When I hide the first data series, the chart will show floating bars, which is perfect for a Gantt chart.

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This Gantt chart uses floating bars to present the 5 tasks in sequence

Combination charts

Combination (or combo) charts are also not available in the list of predefined chart types. When I want to emphasize different types of information in a chart, I can use two or more chart types in the same chart. I often combine a column chart with a line chart for an instant visual effect that might make the chart easier to understand. If the data of the different chart types varies a lot, I also use a second vertical axis (the one on the right in the chart below) for the second chart type. This really helps clarify the data that's shown in a combo chart.

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This combo chart shows recent home sales

Organization, flow, and hierarchy charts

Organization, flow, and hierarchy charts are an entirely different animal. There's no easy way to simulate these types of charts by using predefined chart types. Instead, I need to use SmartArt graphics to create them.

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This example shows an organization chart

Histogram and Pareto charts

Histogram and Pareto charts are column charts that display frequency data, but they are not available as predefined chart types either. To create them, I've used the Histogram tool of the Analysis ToolPak, an Excel add-in program that comes with Excel.

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This example shows a histogram

These are just a few examples that may inspire you to create that "other" chart type. I'd love to hear about any creative ways you have used to present your data in a chart type that simply isn't available in the list of chart types.

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About bench3 -

Haja Peer Mohamed H, Software Engineer by profession, Author, Founder and CEO of "bench3" you can connect with me on Twitter , Facebook and also onGoogle+

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