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Excel charts don’t have to be dull and boring

I recently posted a chart to an online group, and the first response wasn’t “gosh, that’s interesting data”, but “how did you make such a nice graph?”! The answer – to people’s surprise, it seems – was that I made it in Microsoft Excel. It seems that even in 2023, people don’t realise that Excel charts don’t have to be dull and boring.

If we find ourselves having to make charts in a spreadsheet, rather than using dedicated graph software, then it’s an easy but effective business skill to know how to make them interesting. There are no end of good tutorials online, and reading or watching them will prove to be a very worthwhile couple of hours.

Among the mistakes I often see at presentations are using the drab colours offered by Excel as standard; making lines too thin; and not including data markers. Then we also have the wrong choice of chart type; the wrong ordering of items in bar charts; and the use of features like ‘3D’ that should be criminalised.

Charts are meant to bring arguments to life, not send audiences to sleep.