Excel Tutorial: How To Build Excel Dashboard


Excel dashboards are an essential tool for professionals who need to efficiently analyze and present data. They provide a visual representation of complex data sets, allowing users to gain insights and make informed decisions. In this tutorial, we will explore the importance of building an Excel dashboard for effective data visualization, as well as provide step-by-step guidance on how to create one.

Key Takeaways

  • Excel dashboards are essential for efficiently analyzing and presenting data.
  • Organizing data in a tabular format and ensuring consistency is crucial for dashboard use.
  • Choosing the right charts and graphs and building a clean layout are key components of effective data visualization.
  • Adding interactivity and automation to the dashboard enhances user experience and efficiency.
  • Utilizing formulas, functions, and conditional formatting can improve data visualization and analysis.

Setting up the data

When building an Excel dashboard, the first step is to set up the data in a structured and organized manner. This involves arranging the data in a tabular format, ensuring its consistency and accuracy, and sorting and filtering it for dashboard use.

A. Organizing data in a tabular format

To begin with, it's important to organize the data in a tabular format where each column represents a different variable or attribute, and each row represents a separate record or data point. This will make it easier to analyze and visualize the data in the dashboard.

B. Ensuring data consistency and accuracy

Once the data is organized, it's crucial to ensure its consistency and accuracy. This involves checking for any missing or duplicate values, correcting any errors or inconsistencies, and validating the data against predefined criteria to ensure its reliability.

C. Sorting and filtering data for dashboard use

Finally, the data should be sorted and filtered based on the specific requirements of the dashboard. This may involve arranging the data in a particular order, such as by date or alphabetical order, and applying filters to display only the relevant data for the dashboard visualization.

Choosing the right charts and graphs

When building an Excel dashboard, it is crucial to choose the right charts and graphs to effectively visualize and summarize your data. Here are some important considerations:

A. Selecting appropriate chart types for different data sets
  • Bar and Column charts: Ideal for comparing values across categories.
  • Line charts: Useful for showing trends over time.
  • Pie charts: Best for showing the proportion of each category in a data set.
  • Scatter plots: Great for visualizing relationships between two numerical variables.

B. Using pivot tables to summarize data
  • Grouping and summarizing: Utilize pivot tables to quickly summarize and analyze large datasets.
  • Drilling down: Easily drill down into the details of your data to gain deeper insights.
  • Creating calculated fields: Customize your pivot table to perform specific calculations based on your data.

C. Creating visually appealing charts and graphs
  • Choosing the right colors: Select a color scheme that is easy on the eyes and effectively communicates your data.
  • Adding labels and titles: Clearly label your charts and graphs for easy understanding and interpretation.
  • Utilizing design elements: Incorporate visual elements such as gridlines, data markers, and trendlines to enhance the visual appeal of your charts and graphs.

Building the dashboard layout

When it comes to building an Excel dashboard, the layout is a crucial aspect that determines how easily and effectively users can analyze the data. A well-designed layout should be clean, intuitive, and visually appealing.

A. Designing a clean and intuitive layout
  • Ensure that the dashboard is uncluttered and easy to navigate
  • Use clear and descriptive labels for data points and charts
  • Organize the information logically and in a way that makes sense to the end user

B. Adding key performance indicators (KPIs) for quick analysis
  • Identify the most important metrics and KPIs that need to be monitored
  • Include these KPIs prominently on the dashboard for quick reference
  • Use visual elements such as gauges or sparklines to represent KPIs

C. Using color coding to highlight important data points
  • Utilize colors to draw attention to critical data points or trends
  • Choose a color scheme that is visually appealing and easy to interpret
  • Be consistent with color usage to avoid confusion

Adding Interactivity to the Dashboard

When building an Excel dashboard, it's important to make it as interactive as possible to provide users with a seamless and efficient experience. Here are some ways to add interactivity to your dashboard:

  • Creating drop-down menus for dynamic data display
  • Drop-down menus are a great way to allow users to select specific data for display. This can be achieved using Excel's data validation feature to create a drop-down list linked to the data source. Users can then select their desired category or criteria, and the dashboard will dynamically update to display relevant information.

  • Using slicers to filter data in real time
  • Slicers are an advanced filtering feature in Excel that allow users to visually filter data in real time. By adding slicers to your dashboard, users can easily narrow down the data they want to see by clicking on specific categories or criteria. This provides a more intuitive and interactive way to explore the data.

  • Incorporating clickable buttons for navigation
  • Clickable buttons can be added to the dashboard to allow users to navigate between different sections or views. This can be done using Excel's form controls or by inserting hyperlinks to specific cells or worksheets. By adding clickable buttons, users can easily move around the dashboard to access the information they need.

Using formulas and functions for automation

Excel dashboards can be made more efficient and dynamic by using formulas and functions for automation. This allows for real-time calculations, visualizations, and updates to be reflected in the dashboard. Here are some ways to utilize formulas and functions to build an effective Excel dashboard:

A. Utilizing formulas to calculate metrics and ratios
  • Sum and Average:

    Use the SUM and AVERAGE functions to calculate the total and average values of a set of data, such as sales figures or production output.
  • Percentage Change:

    Use the formula =((New Value - Old Value) / Old Value) * 100 to calculate the percentage change between two data points, such as monthly sales growth.
  • Profit Margin:

    Use the formula to calculate the profit margin for a product or service.

B. Implementing conditional formatting for data visualization
  • Color Scales:

    Use conditional formatting to apply color scales to represent different ranges of data, such as sales performance or customer satisfaction scores, making it easier to spot trends and outliers.
  • Icon Sets:

    Utilize icon sets within conditional formatting to display icons based on specific criteria, such as using arrows to indicate performance trend or smiley faces to represent customer feedback ratings.
  • Data Bars:

    Apply data bars to visualize the magnitude of data points within a range, such as displaying the relative size of sales figures or project timelines.

C. Adding dynamic titles and labels using cell references
  • Dynamic Text:

    Use cell references to create dynamic titles and labels that automatically update based on the input or selection, such as displaying the selected product name or sales region as the header of the dashboard.
  • Dropdown Menus:

    Utilize dropdown menus linked to cell references to enable users to select specific criteria, such as time periods or product categories, and have the dashboard update accordingly.
  • Dynamic Charts and Graphs:

    Use cell references to dynamically update charts and graphs based on user input or changes in the underlying data, allowing for interactive visualization within the dashboard.


In conclusion, Excel dashboards play a vital role in presenting data in a visually appealing and easily understandable manner. They allow users to analyze and interpret information efficiently, making informed decisions. I encourage all readers to apply the tutorial to their own projects and harness the power of Excel dashboards for their data visualization needs. For those interested in further advancing their skills, there are numerous resources available for advanced dashboard building techniques that can take your dashboards to the next level.

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