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Excel: Creating A Thermometer Style Chart

Category: Charts & Graphics | [Item URL]

Most people are familiar with "thermometer"-style graphs, which show the percentage of a project completed. It's easy to make such a display in Excel. The key is to create a chart that uses a single cell (containing a percentage value) as a data series.
The example below tracks daily progress toward a goal: 1000 new customers in a 15-day period.
Cell B18 contains the goal value. Cell B19 contains a simple sum formula:
=SUM(B2:B16)
Cell B21 contains the following formula, which calculates the percentage of the goal attained
 =B19/B18
As new data is entered in column B, the formulas display the current results.
To create the chart:
  1. Enter the formulas listed above, along with the worksheet's sample data.
  2. Select cell B21, and click the Chart Wizard button. Notice the blank row preceding cell B21. If you fail to include this blank row, Excel will use the entire data block--not just the single cell--to construct the chart. Since B21 is isolated from the other data, the Chart Wizard uses only the single cell.
  3. In step 1 of the Chart Wizard dialog, specify a Column chart and a Clustered Column subtype (the first choice).
  4. Click Next twice, and then in step 2 make additional adjustments: Add a Chart Title (Title tab), dump the Category (x) axis (Axes tab), delete the legend (Legend tab), and specify Show value (Data Labels tab). Click Finish to view the chart.
  5. Double-click the column to display the Format Data Series dialog box.
  6. Click the Options tab, and set the Gap width to 0 (this setting instructs the column to occupy the entire width of the plot area).
  7. To change the pattern used in the column, click the Patterns tab and make your selection. The example shown here uses a gradient fill effect.
  8. Double-click the vertical axis to bring up the Format Axis dialog. In the Scale tab of the Format Axis dialog, set Minimum to 0 and Maximum to 1.

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