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Charley's Swipe File #57

This stacked column chart from 'The Economist' provides a distinctive design and offers an Excel formatting challenge that you'll find useful.


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

Charley's Swipe File Chart #57When I saw a chart like this in The Economist, I really liked the design, including the color combination.

(However, because their chart didn’t include a legend, I used a legend design that I had noticed in another figure in The Economist.)

At first, I thought this figure would be easy to create in Excel. It was, except for one complicating item. Do you see the complication?

Take a look at the 50% label for the Y axis. The original chart included this one label, and I wanted to do the same. Partly, this was a matter of principle: They did it, so I should be able to do it.

But also, the single label made sense. Displaying both the 0% and 100% labels would cause those labels to overlap the black horizontal lines, and including the two labels would add no useful information. On the other hand, including only the 50% value in the Y axis provides a visual reference that I liked.

I could use a number format to hide the 0% label. But I couldn’t think of a number format that also would hide the 100% label. And I couldn’t use the text-value tricks I often use with the X axis, because the Y axis must display actual numbers, not text.
So because I couldn’t think of a standard way to create this label, I cheated. Here’s how…

(Continued in the documentation.)

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