So you’ve a bunch of numbers ready to show the world (or at your weekly management meetings). The numbers are nice, but you also want to hit upper management over the head (subtly, of course) with how awesome those numbers are at a glance.
Your first thought? “Bar charts.”
After fiddling in Excel for half an hour, you come up with a bar chart that looks moderately pleasing. But the bar chart looks a little, you know, crowded. (So many things in there!)
I introduce you to conditional formatting. Specifically, the data bar conditional format. Consider this:
Yes, I spent an inordinate amount of time matching the green colour in the bar chart to the preset green colour option Excel gave for data bars… Oh gradient fills…
Even after fiddling with chart options, I still find the chart very “busy”. The data bar version is “cleaner”.
Remember that the goal of a chart is to present the data without stylistic elements overpowering the actual data. Depending on your situation, the (conditionally formatted) data bar might be a better choice.