How To Make a Panel Chart for Your Excel Dashboard

Most dashboards consist of a series of charts and tables, neatly arranged in an organised layout. Generally these charts are related, as they will all deal with particular aspects of a larger over-arching topic. In many ways a Panel Chart is a microcosm of a larger dashboard. It is made up of a collection of charts laid out in a geometric panel-like arrangement, and in the majority of cases all of these charts will be very closely related to each other.

It is very easy to create a panel chart using Excel. While some tutorials may recommend a complicated approach, involving the creation of a single chart which contains a number of smaller charts within it, this actually requires a lot of formulae and other set-up time. A much simpler solution is to simply generate each of the small charts individually and then arrange them in a panel formation on your worksheet.

When creating your smaller charts the standard approach in Excel is used. Simply choose the type of chart you require and fill in the relevant data. As you are creating a panel chart, each of the other smaller charts will mirror the structure and style of your initial chart. Therefore it is a good idea to create one chart, format it as required, and then copy it to create the additional charts. A quick way of copying a chart is to click on it and then press CTRL + D. Of course each new chart you generate will need new source data, which can easily be adjusted in the usual way.

A very important aspect of panel charts is that they allow for good comparison between different elements of a data set. However this is only effective if the scale of all of the charts are identical. If the axes are set to different limits, visual comparison is automatically affected. Therefore it is essential that all axes be set to the same maximum and minimum limits for all of the charts. Once all your charts have been designed, it is a simple matter to line them up in the layout you require.


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