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Charley's Swipe File #32

This professional Excel chart uses formatting tricks to make an ordinary chart distinctive—without adding chart junk that distracts from the data


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

Charley's Swipe File #32I like this chart because it uses a variety of formatting tricks to make an ordinary chart rather distinctive—without adding chart junk that distracts from the data.

The formatting features include:

  1. The label for the unit of measure (“thousand”) appears near the first number in the vertical axis.

  2. The column plots alternate dark and light colors by year.

  3. The background shading also varies by year.

  4. The labels for the horizontal axis use an unusual number format for Excel charts.

The chart shows the actual trend in sales of new housing in the US. I showed real data because it was easier to download the data from the FRB web site (see:  https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/HSN1F) than it was to create artificial data for the chart.

Here’s how I set up the four chart-formatting features...

(Continued in the documentation.)

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