Dashboarding is an effective way to convey data quickly and effectively. Professional dashboards can enable organizations to easily identify performance metrics, spot trends and take action. Dashboards can range from simple single page summaries to detailed visual displays that are fully customizable and informative. A professional dashboard made in Excel can include all of the features found in a typical digital dashboard, with the additional advantage of being easy to use and manage.

A professional dashboard is a comprehensive summary of data from various sources and organizational units. It is a convenient way of displaying complex data in a concise, user-friendly format. It gives the users access to both current and historical performance metrics and enables them to draw data-driven insights and spot trends.

Using Excel to create professional dashboards is an excellent option as it is easy to learn and use, is cost-effective, and provides a user-friendly interface. Furthermore, it allows users to visually represent data through graphical displays such as pie and bar graphs, scatter plots, and map displays. It also enables users to filter data, set up alerts, and track performance in real-time.

Moreover, using Excel to create professional dashboards allows users to create sophisticated and dynamic storylines from their data. These stories can be used to identify patterns, draw connections, and make the data interactive. This makes understanding and analyzing the data easier and more intuitive.

Setting up an Excel Spreadsheet

When creating a professional dashboard in Excel, there are a few important steps to follow that will help ensure the project is successful. The first of these is to set up an Excel spreadsheet that is correctly formatted and correctly configured to help organize the data.

Preparing Rows and Columns

It is important when setting up the Excel spreadsheet to pay special attention to the different rows and columns that will act as the basis for the dashboard. Make sure any relevant data is sorted into the appropriate columns and rows, as this will help with visualization later on. It is also wise to consider how many rows and columns will be needed: any extra data should be stored in another section of the workbook if necessary, as this may make the dashboard design simpler.

Setting Data Types

Be sure to designate specific types of data to each column to prevent any issues with later calculations in the dashboard. For example, consider any numerical data and make sure the numbers are rounded to the main area of interest. Additionally, formatting the data columns will help maintain consistency across the workplace, by ensuring that all numbers or other data match the style of the dashboard.

Finally, consider any data points that may require additional formatting such as color coding. This could be used to highlight relevant information or to draw attention to critical figures in the dashboard. This can help display the data in a more user-friendly manner.

Manipulating Data

Excel is a powerful tool for data analysis and allows you to manipulate data in a variety of ways. In order to create professional dashboards, you'll need to be able to quickly and efficiently modify your data and make sure it is ready for your dashboard. This includes formatting and organizing, cleaning and merging, and calculating values.

Formatting and Organizing

Formatting and organizing your data is essential to creating an effective dashboard. This includes changing cell formats, adding titles and headers, changing the data source, etc. As you're preparing your data, you'll want to make sure that it is formatted and organized properly in order to make it easier to work with.

Cleaning and Merging

To provide useful and accurate information for your dashboard, you'll need to clean and merge your data. This includes removing unnecessary and duplicated content, filling any gaps, and merging multiple data sets into a single source. This step is essential to ensure that your data is ready to be used in your dashboard.

Calculating Values

In addition to formatting and organizing your data and cleaning and merging it, you'll also need to be able to calculate values in order to make the most of your data. Excel’s formulas and functions are essential in this process and allow you to quickly and efficiently calculate various values from your data. This will ensure that your data is ready to be used in your dashboard.

Creating Visualizations

Creating professional dashboards in excel requires a combination of meaningful data and effective visualizations. Visualizations make it easy to identify patterns, trends and other important insights by transforming mundane data into interactive visuals. It allows users to quickly scan, identify and analyse data to make well-informed decisions. There are several types of charts available to create contextual visualizations as per your data objectives.

Types of charts

In Excel, there are several types of charts such as:

  • Column charts
  • Bar charts
  • Line charts
  • Area charts
  • Pie charts
  • Bubble charts
  • Scatter charts
  • Radar charts
  • Stock charts

Important visualizations

It is important to choose visualizations that accurately reflect the data and make it easy to spot patterns and correlations. Here are some of the most important visualizations to create professional dashboards in excel:

  • Column charts - Column charts are one of the most commonly used data visualizations. It displays data through vertical or horizontal bars. It is easy to distinguish between different data points.
  • Line charts - Line charts are used to display items over time or to show trends. It can help to identify increases or decreases in the data and to establish correlations between different data points.
  • Pie charts - Pie charts are used to display the proportions of a total within a group of categories. It can easily compare the relative size of each category in relation to the whole.
  • Area charts - Area charts are used to show the changes in values over time. It can help to identify trends, patterns and other important insights in the data.
  • Bubble charts - Bubble charts are used to display multiple dimensions of data in a single chart. It can help to compare different data points and identify correlations between them.

Working with Formulas

To create more sophisticated dashboards and to swiftly generate insights, Excel users need to master working with formulas. In general, a formula is an expression which calculates the value of a cell. Formulas are important for conducting calculations, manipulating data, quickly deriving insights and creating interactive dashboards. They can also be combined to build even more complex formulas.

Using common formulas

Excel provides various formulas for users to calculate using values from other cells. Examples of common formulas include IF/THEN, SUM, MIN/MAX, AVERAGE and VLOOKUP. It is important to become familiar with each formula and understand when and how to use it. Having a good handle on these formulas significantly speeds up the dashboard building process and reduces errors.

Creating formulas to pull data

Advanced users may need to create more complex formulas to combine different data sets and filter information. Users can also create their own formulas to pull data from separate tables in the spreadsheet. To do this, users need to understand the common array functions such as SUMIF, COUNTIF and also the more advanced INDEX/MATCH function.

Spend some time to become familiar with the different formula options and functions in Excel. This deep understanding not only accelerates your dashboard building process, but also allows you to get the most out of Excel and create more powerful, intuitive dashboards.

Enhancing the Dashboard

A professional dashboard should be organized and visually appealing. After creating the dashboard, the next step is to enhance it to communicate the data more effectively. Some of the ways you can enhance the dashboard are by adding formatting, color, and more.

Adding Formatting

To make the dashboard easier to read, you can add formatting. To do this, highlight all the cells in the dashboard and select the formatting options you need. You can also format individual cells to separate information and make it stand out. This will also make your dashboard more visually appealing. Additionally, you can add borders to create structure and order.

Adding Color

Color can be an effective way to draw attention the parts of the dashboard most important. This is especially useful for drawing attention to key metrics or visuals. To add color to the dashboard, you can use the conditional formatting options in Excel. This will allow you to apply colors to certain parts of the dashboard based on criteria you set. You can also manually add color to the dashboard for individual cells or for the entire dashboard.


We've explored the process of creating professional dashboards in Excel. From setting up the worksheets and charts, to customizing them for maximum visual appeal and presentation, this article has shown the steps that can be taken to create beautiful, easy-to-use Excel dashboards.

Recap of Steps

The process begins with setting up the worksheet and data, if necessary. After that, Excel tables, charts, and Sparklines can be utilized and customized with visual elements such as backgrounds, graphics, text, and charts. Calculations can also be used to spice up the dashboard with comparisons and projections.

Discussion of Benefits

Excel dashboards can be a powerful addition to any presentation, especially when the data and dashboard design is done right. They can help to illustrate complex information in an easy-to-digest format, allowing users to quickly identify key takeaways and draw conclusions. By following the steps outlined in this article, you should now be able to create attractive and professional dashboards in Excel, giving your presentations that extra polished look.

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