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How to make amazing Excel visuals and graphs

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How to make amazing Excel visuals and graphs

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The way you present your Excel data can make a significant impact on how your message is received. Excel, a tool that most professionals are familiar with, has immense potential for creating visually appealing and attention-grabbing charts. If you are struggling to make professional looking Excel graphs for your presentations or PowerPoint slides this quick guide will provide more insight into how you can make amazing Excel graphs and visuals to match your companies branding and aesthetics.

Make your Excel graphs look more professional

Creating compelling and professional visuals and graphs in Excel requires both a clear understanding of your data and the ability to use Excel’s powerful charting tools effectively. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you achieve that. Watch the guide created by Kenji Explains to learn more about the process of crafting three sophisticated chart types : radial bar charts, overlapping bar charts, and stacked bar charts taking inspiration from reports created by McKinsey & Company.

Understand Your Data

  • Data Quality: Ensure your data is clean, accurate, and well-organized. Data should be free from errors, duplicates, and irrelevant entries. Columns should represent variables, and rows should represent observations.
  • Data Structure: Organize your data in a clear, logical format. Excel works best with data in a tabular format, with each row representing a data record and each column representing a different variable.

Choose the Right Type of Chart

  • Bar and Column Charts: Ideal for comparing the frequency, count, or volume of different categories. Use vertical columns for time-based data and horizontal bars for comparing different categories.
  • Line Charts: Best for displaying trends over time or continuous data. Use when you have a series of data points connected by straight line segments.
  • Pie Charts: Suitable for showing parts of a whole. Use only when you have a limited number of categories that add up to 100%.
  • Scatter Plots: Effective for showing the relationship between two variables. Use when you want to show how one variable affects another.
  • Combo Charts: Combines two or more chart types to make complex data easier to understand. Useful when dealing with different units of measurement or scale.
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Practice and Feedback

Experiment with different types of charts and customization options to find what best represents your data. Share your visuals with colleagues or peers to get feedback on clarity and effectiveness. Continuous learning and adaptation are key to mastering Excel visuals and graphs.

Here are some other articles you may find of interest on the subject of improving your Excel data analysis, graphs and workflows :

Customizing Charts

  • Title and Labels: Always include a clear, descriptive title and label your axes. This helps viewers understand what the chart is about without needing additional context.
  • Legend: A legend is crucial when your chart contains multiple series or categories. Place the legend in a position that does not obscure any data.
  • Color and Style: Use color and style to make important data stand out, but avoid over-complicating your chart. Stick to a consistent theme.
  • Axes and Gridlines: Adjust the scale of your axes to ensure your data is presented clearly. Gridlines can be added for better readability but keep them subtle.
  • Data Labels: In some cases, adding data labels can make it easier for viewers to understand the exact value of bars, lines, or segments.

how to make your Excel graphs more professional

Advanced Techniques

  • Dynamic Charts: Use Excel formulas or pivot tables to create charts that automatically update when your data changes. This is particularly useful for dashboards and interactive reports.
  • Conditional Formatting: For more complex data visualization, consider using conditional formatting within your charts. This can highlight data points based on criteria, such as highlighting sales figures that exceed a certain target.
  • Combining Charts: Sometimes, combining multiple charts into one visual (like overlaying a line chart on a bar chart) can provide deeper insights into your data.
  • Using Templates: Save time by creating and using templates for charts you use frequently. This ensures consistency across your visuals.
  • Add-ins and Tools: Explore Excel add-ins and external tools for more sophisticated visualization capabilities. Some tools offer advanced analytics and presentation features beyond what’s available in standard Excel.
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By mastering these three chart types and continuing to invest in your education, you can elevate your Excel skills to the level of distinction associated with top-tier consultants like those at McKinsey & Company. By creating more polished Excel chart designs and presenting your Excel data with confidence and precision, you’ll ensure that your insights resonate with your audience and make a lasting impact.

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