For business users of Microsoft Excel Free guides and templates

Windows & Mac Excel

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.)

Order Details

Excel Versions:

Excel 2007 and after, for either Windows or Mac


Instant download of zipped Excel and PDF files. If you ever need another download, you can get it at any time.


One full year, unconditional.


All prices are in US Dollar currency.


Two copies: One for work plus one for home.

Credit Cards:

Credit Cards

Only $14.95

New Excel