More on Excel in-cell graphing

We received an enthusiastic response to our post on in-cell bar graphs in Excel. The community quickly explored every edge case. I want to highlight some of the great ideas raised.

Henk was first out of the gate with a great suggestion that two columns could be used to show positive and negative values. What he’s thinking of looks like this:

Using two columns to show positive/negative values

Clint compares this approach favorably to the upcoming Excel 12’s gradient fills. Here’s a comparison:

Excel 12’s in cell bar graphs—the gradient fill is poor design

Excel 12—the gradient fill is bad infographics

In cell bar graphs using rept--looking good

In cell graphs--better

Benjamin Selmer, derek, and Chris Grant had some nice ideas to improve the look of the bars by choosing different fonts or characters. Fonts that may work include Niagara Solid and Stencil.

You can also use characters other than a bar to nice effect. Here’s a dot graph created by repeating spaces terminated with the letter "o".

An in-cell dot graph

Here’s an anchored dot graph created by repeating dashes terminated with the letter "o".

An in-cell anchored dot graph

You can also label the bar with a value by concatenating the value after the bars. Remember, you can use "&" to glue together text strings in Excel formulas.

A labeled bar graph

You can change the width of the bar by dividing the value your graphing by some numbers.

Changing the width of bar graphs

Some folks raised the interesting (some would say perverse ;-) ) idea of using this technique to create Gantt charts. Here’s an example. I’m using the fact that the width of a space character is exactly 1.5x the width of a bar character in Arial to make this work.

A lightweight Gantt chart

Finally, here’s an Excel spreadsheet illustrating all these techniques.

Excel in-cell graphing ideas.xls

It’s humbling to see the explosion of interest and all the great and diverse ideas. Thank you to all contributors.