Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Excel Dashboard Charts

Below you'll find some common or uncommon types of charts that can be put on a dashboard with a brief summary and then a video on how to put it together in Microsoft Excel. The charts covered are:

Speedometer (Odometer) Chart

Seems like it wouldn't be a dashboard without some chart that fit the car dashboard analogy. Personally I've found it challenging to implement a speedometer chart or odometer chart. However it seems to be quite popular as a search term. So for those of you that have been looking for a way to create a speedometer chart in Excel, here's a video tutorial for you viewing pleasure.

Pareto Chart

The Pareto chart is based on the 80/20 rule (or Pareto Principle) that was named after an Italian economist named Vilfredo Pareto. Basically this theory states that about 80% of the effects comes from about 20% of the causes. There's many different statements of the 80/20 rule - 80% of the wealth is held by 20% of the population or 80% of the pollution is cause by 20% of the countries. The video instruction below will show you how to chart your own data to show the Pareto Principle in action.


Sparklines is a charting concept popularized by Edward Tufte and he defines them as a "small intense, simple, word-sized graphic". Basically they are mini charts that may not have labels, gridlines, or much text. The concept even found it's way into Microsoft Excel 2010 as an added charting feature. However you don't need Excel 2010 to create a sparkline chart. Here's a video on how to create a sparkline chart in Excel 2007.

Gantt Chart

The Gantt chart is popular in project management and it basically is a bar chart that shows a schedule of events by illustrating start and end dates. Sophisticated Gantt charts can be developed with products such as Microsoft Project, but if you wanted a simple Gantt chart that showed some major tasks Excel works just fine. Here's how you do it:

Thermometer Chart

A thermometer chart is useful if you wanted to show how a value is comparing to a target.

Bullet Graph

The bullet graph has a similar concept to the thermometer chart but pack much more information. It was conceived by Stephen Few. Not only does it show a target value, but also ranges that could indicate a scale of performance.

Scrolling Table

Sometimes your data is best left as a table, but if you have a lot a data and a small amount of space (as in a dashboard) a scrolling table may fit your needs.

Line Chart with Target Range

What's a list of charts without a line chart example. Here's one that show a target range.

Motion Bubble Chart

Bubble charts let you show data with three data series (x,y,z); the size of the bubbles is determined by the values in the third data series. Making them "move"...that was the neat part!