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How to present data in a visual format?

Bullet charts are a superb data visualisation tool – if you want to present results of a metric such as Sales across two periods e.g. this year versus last year (or against this year’s target) in  for instance a business plan update. The advantage is that they allow presentation of comparative information while also presenting a continuum that shows Poor, Ok and Good performance. This blogpost addresses how to create Bullet Charts and Sparklines in Excel.

 

How to read a Bullet Chart?

Bullet Charts are quick to read and understand if you are familiar with them. In the example below Actual performance is slightly above Target and is in the Good category.

Bullet graph

I recently created a Slideshshare presentation with detailed instructions on how to create a bullet chart in Excel which can then be copied into Powerpoint. It includes details of a free Excel Add On called Autolocity which allows bullet charts to be easily created in a spreadsheet. If you don’t want to download an Add In you can use existing Excel functionality to create bullet charts as per this blogpost. 

 

 

Sparklines – another Excel Visualisation Tool

 

This blogpost explains that a Sparkline is a tiny chart that can be inserted in a single cell. If you have data presented in a column or a row, then a Sparkline could be very useful in showing the pattern or the trend of that data.

 

Example of a Sparkline

I hope that you find this blogpost of benefit when presenting data in a visual context. All comments welcome.

regards

Donncha

@donnchadhh

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