Excel Tutorial: How To Build An Excel Dashboard


Excel dashboards are powerful tools that allow users to visually present and analyze complex data sets. They provide a quick overview of key metrics and trends, making it easier for decision-makers to identify insights and make informed decisions. Building an effective Excel dashboard can help businesses streamline their reporting processes and improve data-driven decision-making.

Key Takeaways

  • Excel dashboards are powerful tools for visually presenting and analyzing complex data sets.
  • Building an effective Excel dashboard can streamline reporting processes and improve data-driven decision-making.
  • Understanding the basics of Excel, such as familiarizing with the interface and basic functions, is essential for creating a dashboard.
  • Planning the layout and design, as well as organizing and structuring data, are crucial steps in building a dashboard.
  • Adding interactivity through drop-down lists, filters, and interactive buttons can enhance user control and visualization of data.

Understanding the basics of Excel

When it comes to building an Excel dashboard, it's essential to start with a strong foundation of understanding the basics of Excel. Familiarity with the interface and basic functions and formulas for data manipulation is crucial for creating a functional and visually appealing dashboard.

A. Familiarizing with Excel interface

Before diving into building a dashboard, it's important to become comfortable with the Excel interface. This includes understanding the layout of the ribbon, the different tabs and their functions, and how to navigate through the spreadsheet.

B. Basic functions and formulas for data manipulation

Excel offers a wide range of functions and formulas for manipulating data. Understanding basic functions such as SUM, AVERAGE, COUNT, and MAX/MIN, as well as basic formulas for calculations and data manipulation, is key to creating an effective dashboard.

Planning your dashboard

Before diving into building your Excel dashboard, it is crucial to have a clear plan in place. This involves identifying the key metrics to be displayed and sketching the layout and design of the dashboard.

A. Identifying key metrics to be displayed

Begin by determining the specific metrics and KPIs that are most relevant to the purpose of your dashboard. Whether it is sales data, financial performance, or project management, ensure that you are clear on the key information that needs to be presented.

B. Sketching the layout and design of the dashboard

Once you have a clear understanding of the key metrics, it is essential to sketch out the layout and design of your dashboard. Consider the visual hierarchy of the various elements, such as charts, tables, and graphs, and how they will be arranged to effectively communicate the data.

Pay attention to the overall aesthetic and user experience, keeping in mind the intended audience and their preferences for accessing and interpreting the information.

Data input and organization

When building an Excel dashboard, the first step is to input and organize your data in a way that makes it easy to work with and visualize. This involves importing data into Excel and structuring it effectively.

Importing data into Excel

Excel allows you to import data from various sources such as databases, websites, and text files. To import data, go to the "Data" tab on the Excel ribbon and select the appropriate option for your data source. Follow the prompts to connect to your data source and import the data into Excel.

Structuring data for easy visualization

Once the data is imported, it's important to structure it in a way that makes it easy to visualize and analyze. This involves organizing the data into relevant columns and rows, and creating tables or lists to group related data together. Use Excel's features such as filters, sorting, and conditional formatting to make the data more accessible and meaningful.

Creating Visualizations

Visualizations are essential for effectively conveying data in an excel dashboard. They help the viewer to quickly understand and interpret the information being presented. In Excel, you can create visualizations using charts, graphs, and conditional formatting.

Using charts and graphs to display data

Charts and graphs are powerful tools for visualizing data in Excel. Here are the steps to create a chart or graph:

  • Select the data: Choose the data range that you want to visualize. This could be a single column or row, or multiple columns and rows.
  • Insert a chart: Go to the Insert tab, and select the type of chart or graph you want to create from the Charts group. Common options include bar graphs, line graphs, and pie charts.
  • Customize the chart: Once the chart is inserted, you can further customize it by adding titles, labels, and changing the colors and styles to make it more visually appealing.
  • Update the chart: If the underlying data changes, you can easily update the chart by right-clicking on it and selecting "Edit Data" or by using the "Change Data Source" option.

Applying conditional formatting for data visualization

Conditional formatting is a powerful feature in Excel that allows you to apply formatting to cells based on certain criteria. This can be used to visually highlight trends, patterns, or outliers in the data. Here's how to use conditional formatting for data visualization:

  • Select the data range: Choose the range of cells you want to apply conditional formatting to.
  • Apply conditional formatting: Go to the Home tab, click on the Conditional Formatting button, and choose the type of formatting you want to apply, such as color scales, data bars, or icon sets.
  • Set the criteria: Define the rules or conditions that will determine how the formatting is applied. For example, you can set thresholds for certain values to be highlighted in a specific color.
  • Manage rules: You can easily manage and update the conditional formatting rules by going to the Conditional Formatting Rules Manager.

Adding interactivity

One of the key elements of a well-designed Excel dashboard is interactivity, which allows users to manipulate and analyze data based on their own preferences. In this section, we will explore how to incorporate drop-down lists and filters, as well as creating interactive buttons for user control.

Incorporating drop-down lists and filters

Drop-down lists and filters are valuable tools for allowing users to select specific data sets and customize their dashboard experience. To create a drop-down list, select the cell where you want the list to appear, then navigate to the Data tab and click on Data Validation. From the Settings tab, choose List as the validation criteria and enter the items for the drop-down list in the Source field. Once the list is created, users can easily select from the available options to filter the data displayed in the dashboard.

Creating interactive buttons for user control

Interactive buttons provide users with the ability to control the display and analysis of data within the dashboard. To create a button, select the Insert tab and click on the Shapes option. Choose a shape for your button, then right-click on the shape and select Edit Text to add a label. Next, right-click on the shape again and select Assign Macro to link the button to a specific action or function within the dashboard. Users can then click on the button to trigger the assigned action, such as refreshing data or navigating to a different view.


Creating an Excel dashboard can be a powerful tool for organizing and analyzing data. In this tutorial, we have covered the fundamental steps to build an effective dashboard, including setting up data tables, creating pivot tables, and designing visual elements. As you continue to practice and explore advanced features, you will be able to customize your dashboard to suit your specific needs and create a valuable tool for decision-making and data analysis. Keep experimenting and don't be afraid to push the boundaries of what Excel can do for you!

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