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Charley's Swipe File #38

The Wall Street Journal published a similar column-chart figure recently. Creating it in Excel requires several tricks.

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

Charley's Swipe File #38The Wall Street Journal published a figure similar to this recently. Because I liked its appearance, and because we can’t set up it without knowing several charting tricks, I thought it was a great chart to add to my Swipe Files.

This chart shows actual vs budget, but notice that there’s no legend to tell readers which is which.

I skipped the legend for three reasons. First, it takes up space the charts need.

Second, I always follow the convention that forecasts and budgets use wider, lighter plot areas, and actuals use darker, narrower ones. This design supports the idea that actual performance occurs within the broader environment of the budget.

Third, the text, if you use it, should do an adequate job of explaining what the charts mean. (Here, the text is “greeked” because I want to emphsize the form, not distracting content.)

How to Manage the Charts’ Column Widths

These charts started life as Clustered Column Charts. Then I adjusted them, using the first trick, which sets different widths for the two columns...

(Continued in the documentation.)

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