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Charley's Swipe File #50

This traffic-light chart alerts your readers to changes quickly. However the display doesn't use charts, it uses Excel's little-known Camera tool.


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

Charley's Swipe File #50Strictly speaking, this isn’t a chart. But this traffic-light display does draw the eye to performance changes quickly.

So it works much like a chart in some ways.

The red, green, and “(Unchanged)” indicators are dynamic. So as the underlying data changes, the three indicators change automatically.

In fact, this workbook uses random numbers to generate the data, so you’ll see changes each time you press the F9 key.

To support this behavior, the figure relies on Excel’s Camera Tool, which also is known as a linked picture.

The Camera Tool has been part of Excel for many years, but most Excel users have ignored it. Camera objects are images that reference an area of a spreadsheet. So as the contents of the area changes, so do the images.

Excel requires that Cameras use simple cell references or range names to point to the areas they display. That is, Cameras can’t use standard formulas. However, the range names can rely on formulas, and that makes this display possible. Here’s how this figure works…

(Continued in the documentation.)

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