Excel Tutorial: How To Create A Dashboard In Excel


When it comes to organizing and visualizing data, dashboards serve as a powerful tool. They provide a quick and comprehensive overview of key metrics and trends, allowing users to make informed decisions based on the data presented. In the world of business and data analysis, creating a dashboard in Excel is a valuable skill that can streamline reporting and enhance data visualization.

Key Takeaways

  • A dashboard in Excel is a powerful tool for organizing and visualizing data
  • Organizing data in a table format and ensuring its cleanliness is crucial for creating an effective dashboard
  • Choosing the right charts and graphs, customizing them, and incorporating pivot tables are essential steps in dashboard creation
  • Designing the layout and adding interactive elements enhance the functionality and aesthetic appeal of the dashboard
  • Applying the tutorial to your own projects can streamline reporting and enhance data visualization

Setting up your data

Before you can create a dashboard in Excel, you need to ensure that your data is properly organized and free of errors. Here's how to get started:

A. Organizing your data in a table format
  • Start by arranging your data in a table format, with each column representing a different category of data and each row representing a specific data point.
  • Use clear, descriptive headers for each column to make it easier to understand the data at a glance.
  • Consider using a separate sheet within the same workbook for your data table, to keep your dashboard organized and uncluttered.

B. Ensuring data is clean and free of errors
  • Thoroughly review your data for any errors, such as missing or duplicated values, incorrect formatting, or outliers.
  • Use Excel's data validation tools to set up rules and restrictions to prevent data entry errors.
  • Cleanse your data by removing any unnecessary or irrelevant information that could skew your analysis or dashboard visualization.

Selecting the right charts and graphs

When creating a dashboard in Excel, it is crucial to choose the right charts and graphs to effectively visualize your data.

A. Choosing the appropriate visualization for your data
  • Understand your data:

    Before selecting a chart or graph, it is essential to understand the nature of your data. Is it numerical, categorical, time-based, or hierarchical?
  • Consider the message:

    What message do you want to convey with your data? Are you comparing values, showing trends over time, or displaying proportions?
  • Explore different options:

    Excel offers a variety of chart types such as bar charts, line graphs, pie charts, and scatter plots. Consider which type best represents your data.
  • Choose the most effective visualization:

    Once you have a good understanding of your data and the message you want to convey, select the chart or graph that best visualizes your information.

B. Customizing charts to fit the dashboard's theme and purpose
  • Align with the dashboard's theme:

    The charts and graphs in your dashboard should align with the overall theme and style. Choose colors, fonts, and layouts that complement the dashboard's design.
  • Highlight key data points:

    Use formatting options to highlight important data points or trends within the charts. This could include adding data labels, trendlines, or annotations.
  • Remove clutter:

    Ensure that the charts and graphs are not cluttered with unnecessary elements. Remove gridlines, borders, or legends that do not add value to the visualization.
  • Use consistent formatting:

    Maintain consistency in formatting across all charts and graphs within the dashboard. This will create a cohesive and professional look.

Creating pivot tables

Pivot tables are a powerful tool in Excel that allows you to summarize and analyze large amounts of data, making it easier to identify patterns and trends.

A. Using pivot tables to summarize and analyze data

1. To create a pivot table, select the data you want to analyze and go to the "Insert" tab, then click on "PivotTable".

2. Drag and drop the fields you want to summarize and analyze into the rows, columns, and values areas in the PivotTable Fields pane.

3. Use the filters and slicers to further refine the data and focus on specific aspects of the data.

B. Incorporating pivot table data into the dashboard

1. Once you have created a pivot table with the desired data and analysis, you can easily incorporate it into your dashboard.

2. To add the pivot table to the dashboard, simply select the pivot table, copy it, and then paste it into the dashboard worksheet. You can then resize and format the pivot table to fit the dashboard layout.

3. To ensure that the pivot table data stays up to date on the dashboard, you can use the "Refresh" option to update the pivot table with the latest data from the source.

Designing the dashboard layout

When creating a dashboard in Excel, it is important to pay attention to the layout in order to effectively present the data. Here are some key considerations for designing the dashboard layout:

A. Arranging charts, graphs, and pivot tables in a visually appealing way

One of the key elements in designing a dashboard is the arrangement of the charts, graphs, and pivot tables. It is important to consider the hierarchy and flow of the data in order to make it easy for the users to navigate and interpret the information.

  • Group related elements: Organize similar charts and graphs together to make it easier for the users to find and compare the data.
  • Use whitespace: Utilize whitespace to create a clean and uncluttered layout, which can improve readability and comprehension of the data.
  • Consider user interaction: If the dashboard is interactive, ensure that the elements are positioned in a way that facilitates user engagement and navigation.

B. Adding titles, labels, and color schemes for clarity and aesthetics

In addition to the arrangement of the elements, it is important to provide clear and visually appealing labels and titles to guide the users through the dashboard.

  • Title and subtitles: Clearly label each section and provide descriptive titles and subtitles to guide the users and communicate the purpose of each element.
  • Consistent color scheme: Use a consistent color scheme that enhances the visual appeal of the dashboard while also aiding in the comprehension of the data.
  • Use of visual hierarchy: Employ visual cues such as font size, color, and style to create a clear hierarchy of information and guide the users' attention to the most important data points.

Adding interactive elements

When creating a dashboard in Excel, it is important to incorporate interactive elements to enhance user experience and make the data analysis process more efficient. Two key interactive elements that can be added to an Excel dashboard are slicers and timelines for user interactivity and creating drop-down menus for dynamic data selection.

A. Incorporating slicers and timelines for user interactivity

Slicers are a powerful tool in Excel that allow users to filter and interact with pivot tables and charts. To incorporate slicers into your dashboard, follow these steps:

  • Inserting a pivot table: Start by inserting a pivot table to summarize the data you want to visualize.
  • Adding slicers: Once the pivot table is created, click on any cell within the pivot table and go to the "Insert" tab. Then, click on "Slicer" and choose the fields you want to use as slicers.
  • Linking slicers to pivot tables and charts: After adding slicers, you can link them to the pivot tables and charts by selecting the slicer and going to the "Report Connections" option. This will allow the slicers to control the data displayed in the pivot tables and charts.

Timelines, on the other hand, are a useful interactive element when dealing with date-based data. Here's how you can add timelines to your Excel dashboard:

  • Inserting a pivot table: Similar to adding slicers, start by inserting a pivot table to summarize the date-based data.
  • Adding a timeline: Click on any cell within the pivot table and go to the "Insert" tab. Then, click on "Timeline" and choose the date fields you want to use to filter the pivot table data.
  • Connecting the timeline to the pivot table: Once the timeline is added, you can connect it to the pivot table by selecting the timeline and choosing the pivot table you want to filter.

B. Creating drop-down menus for dynamic data selection

Drop-down menus are a great way to allow users to dynamically select and view specific data within the dashboard. To create drop-down menus for dynamic data selection, follow these steps:

  • Setting up data validation: Start by selecting the cell where you want to add the drop-down menu and go to the "Data" tab. Then, click on "Data Validation" and choose the "List" option. This will allow you to create a list of items for the drop-down menu.
  • Creating the drop-down menu: After setting up the data validation, a drop-down arrow will appear in the selected cell. Click on the arrow to display the list of items, and users can then select the desired option.
  • Linking the drop-down menu to data: Once the drop-down menu is created, you can link it to other elements in the dashboard, such as pivot tables, charts, or other data visualizations. This will enable users to dynamically select the data they want to view based on the options in the drop-down menu.


Creating a dashboard in Excel can significantly enhance your data visualization and analysis. By incorporating key elements such as charts, graphs, and pivot tables, you can effectively summarize and present your data in a visually appealing manner. We encourage you to apply the steps outlined in this tutorial to your own projects, and see the difference it can make in streamlining your data analysis and reporting process.

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