Excel Tutorial: How To Create A Dashboard Using Excel


When it comes to managing and analyzing data, creating a dashboard in Excel can be a game-changer. But first, what exactly is a dashboard? In simple terms, a dashboard is a visual representation of data that provides a quick and easy way to assess performance and key metrics. In Excel, dashboards can help to streamline data analysis and decision-making, making it an essential tool for professionals across various industries.

So, why is it important to create a dashboard in Excel? Well, not only does it make complex data easier to understand, but it also allows for quick insights and trends to be identified. Additionally, Excel dashboards can be customized to fit specific needs and can be easily updated as new data becomes available, keeping your analysis relevant and up-to-date.

Key Takeaways

  • Creating a dashboard in Excel provides a visual representation of data for quick assessment of performance and key metrics.
  • Excel dashboards make complex data easier to understand and allow for quick insights and trend identification.
  • Customizable and easily updatable, Excel dashboards can be tailored to specific needs and kept relevant with new data.
  • Organizing data in a tabular format and selecting the right chart types are critical steps in setting up a dashboard in Excel.
  • Incorporating interactivity and utilizing Excel functions can enhance the functionality and effectiveness of the dashboard.

Setting up your data

Before creating a dashboard in Excel, it is crucial to ensure that your data is organized and error-free. This will make the process of creating the dashboard much smoother and more efficient.

A. Organize your data in a tabular format

Start by organizing your data in a tabular format, with each row representing a single record and each column representing a different attribute or variable. This will make it easier to work with the data in Excel and create the dashboard.

B. Ensure your data is clean and free of errors

It is important to thoroughly clean your data and remove any errors or inconsistencies. This includes removing duplicate entries, correcting misspellings, and ensuring that all data is formatted correctly. This will help prevent any issues when creating the dashboard and ensure that the visualizations accurately represent the underlying data.

Selecting the right chart types

When creating a dashboard in Excel, selecting the right chart types is crucial to effectively display your data. Here are a few key steps to keep in mind:

A. Identify the key metrics to display

Before you begin creating your dashboard, it's important to identify the key metrics that you want to display. These may include sales figures, customer acquisition rates, or any other relevant KPIs for your business.

B. Choose the appropriate charts for each metric

Once you have identified the key metrics, it's time to choose the appropriate charts to effectively visualize each metric. Consider the following factors when selecting chart types:

  • Data type

    Consider the type of data you are working with. For numerical data, bar charts, line graphs, and scatter plots are often effective. For categorical data, consider using pie charts, histograms, or stacked bar charts.

  • Comparison

    If you need to compare different data sets, consider using bar charts, line graphs, or box plots. These charts allow for easy comparison between different categories or time periods.

  • Trends

    If you want to visualize trends over time, line graphs and area charts are effective choices. These charts allow for clear representation of how data changes over a specific timeframe.

  • Distribution

    For visualizing the distribution of data, consider using histograms, box plots, or scatter plots. These charts are effective for showcasing the spread and variability of your data.

Creating the dashboard layout

When creating a dashboard using Excel, the layout design is crucial for a clear and effective display of information. Here's how to approach it:

A. Decide on the layout design
  • Identify key metrics: Determine the key metrics or data points that you want to include in the dashboard. This will help in deciding on the layout and arrangement of charts and tables.
  • Choose the right chart types: Select the appropriate chart types for each metric based on the nature of the data and the insights you want to convey. Bar charts, line graphs, and pie charts are commonly used for dashboard layouts.
  • Organize the information: Consider the logical flow of the information and arrange the charts and tables in a way that makes it easy for the viewer to understand and analyze the data.

B. Use Excel's tools to arrange and format the charts
  • Insert and arrange charts: Use Excel's chart tools to insert and arrange the charts in the dashboard. You can resize, move, and align the charts to create a visually appealing layout.
  • Format the charts: Customize the appearance of the charts by changing the colors, adding titles and labels, and adjusting the axes. This will help in making the charts more visually appealing and easy to interpret.
  • Utilize Excel's design features: Take advantage of Excel's design features such as themes, styles, and layouts to enhance the overall look of the dashboard.

Adding Interactivity

When creating a dashboard in Excel, it's important to make it as interactive as possible to provide a user-friendly experience. Adding interactivity can be done through various methods, such as incorporating drop-down menus and linking charts for dynamic updates.

A. Incorporate drop-down menus to filter data

Drop-down menus are a great way to allow users to filter and view specific data sets within the dashboard. To add a drop-down menu, follow these steps:

  • Select the cell or range of cells where you want to add the drop-down menu.
  • Go to the Data tab and click on Data Validation.
  • In the Data Validation dialog box, select "List" from the Allow drop-down menu.
  • Enter the list of items you want to appear in the drop-down menu in the Source field.
  • Click OK to apply the drop-down menu to the selected cells.

B. Link charts to each other for dynamic updates

Linking charts to each other allows for dynamic updates based on user selections or changes in the data. To link charts in Excel, follow these steps:

  • Click on the chart you want to link to another chart.
  • Go to the Design tab under Chart Tools.
  • Select "Select Data" and then click on "Hidden and Empty Cells".
  • Choose "Show data in hidden rows and columns" and then click OK.
  • Repeat these steps for the other chart you want to link to.

Utilizing Excel functions

When creating a dashboard in Excel, it is important to utilize various functions to populate and organize the data effectively. Here are a couple of key functions that can be used to enhance the dashboard:

  • Use functions like VLOOKUP and SUMIF to populate the dashboard
  • Excel offers a wide range of functions that can be used to pull data from different sources and calculate specific values. VLOOKUP is particularly useful for retrieving data from a table, while SUMIF can be used to calculate the sum of values that meet specific criteria.

  • Implement conditional formatting to highlight important data points
  • Conditional formatting is a powerful feature in Excel that allows you to apply formatting to cells based on their content. This can be used to highlight important data points, such as outliers or key performance indicators, making it easier for users to identify critical information at a glance.


Creating a dashboard in Excel is a powerful way to present and analyze your data in a visually appealing manner. By following the key steps of organizing your data, selecting the right chart types, and utilizing PivotTables, you can easily create an effective dashboard. I encourage you to practice and explore more advanced techniques such as using slicers, sparklines, and conditional formatting to make your dashboard even more insightful and impactful.

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