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Charley's Swipe File #20

These professional-quality Excel charts for business show actual performance with a darker color and projected performance with a lighter color.

by Charley Kyd, MBA
Microsoft Excel MVP, 2005-2014
The Father of Spreadsheet Dashboard Reports

Charley's Swipe File #20When performance is displayed on each side of an important event, it often helps to use different colors on each side of the event.

Here, for example, the event is “now”. Actual performance is shown using a darker color and projected performance is shown using a lighter color.

Other events might be an acquisition, the passage of a new law that affects your industry, the introduction of a major new product line, a recession, and so on.

From the documentation for this swipe file...

From an Excel standpoint, it’s easy to show the two colors of column charts using two series with two shades of blue. You can use the same technique to create what appears to be one line that changes color at the transition.

But the area chart, with its two shades of green, is more of a challenge. The two versions below illustrate the problem.

Excel can handle #N/A in area charts in these two ways.

Version 1 shows Excel’s default behavior. When an area plot transitions from a value of #N/A to a numeric value, it treats the #N/A value as zero. This causes the area to ramp up or down, as shown in the green and blue plots respectively.

But Version 2 shows the approach we need for the chart above. Rather than a ramp we need a vertical gap. Only New Excel offers this power...

(Continued in the documentation.)

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