Custom dashboard solutions provide intelligence, clarity and insight. They allow the user to track performance, set targets and monitor progress of key data points. Excel custom dashboards offer a powerful and easy way to get the most from your data and turn it into actionable insights.

Definition of custom dashboard solutions

A custom dashboard solution is a tool that allows users to create charts and graphs based on data from various sources. These dashboards enable users to view data quickly and easily, and to identify trends and patterns over time. Excel custom dashboards are created with pre-existing data from a variety of sources, such as spreadsheets and databases.

Benefits of using custom dashboard solutions in Excel

  • Provides an efficient way to quickly access and analyze data
  • Allows users to spot trends with ease
  • Helps to identify areas of opportunities or potential risks
  • Provides clear visualizations of data in an understandable format
  • Enables users to quickly compare different data points and develop predictive models

Getting Started with Custom Solutions in Excel

Creating custom dashboard solutions in Excel can provide users with an economical and convenient way to track data and visualize information. With some care and effort, novice users can learn to create simple data dashboards in Excel quickly and the more advanced user can learn to create complex and feature-rich dashboards over time. In this post, we will dive into the initial steps of creating custom dashboard solutions in Excel.

Creating a Template

A great place to begin creating a custom dashboard solution in Excel is with a template. Templates provide users with the basic framework for their dashboard and the ability to quickly add their necessary data and formatting. Microsoft Excel provides a range of standard dashboard templates in the Design tab. Users can also leverage the Specialty Charts section to find premade graphs and charts that they can incorporate into their dashboards. Finally, Excel users can also create their own custom templates to save time and quickly access them when needed.

Gathering Data

Once the basic template is set up, the next step is to collect any necessary data. This can be done in a number of different ways but the most common is to simply import the data into Excel from an external source. This could include other software programs or a database of some kind. In some cases, the data may need to be manipulated and formatted before it can be used in the dashboard. Where possible, users should also consider leveraging existing functions and formulas to help them manipulate data more quickly.

Formatting Data

Once the data is imported and formatted, the user can start to build out the dashboard with the data. Excel provides many tools for formatting and manipulating the data in order to properly display it on the dashboard. A few of the features that can be used include conditional formatting, data validation, custom number formatting, and the ability to filter data. These features can all be used to help the user create a customized and professional-looking dashboard.

Using Formulas in Excel

The use of formulas in Excel is necessary in order to build any custom dashboard solution. Formulas allow you to calculate values and compare them with each other. Excel offers a wide range of functions and operators, giving you the power to create almost any type of formula you may need.

Creating basic formulas

Creating basic formulas is the simplest way to get started with formulas in Excel, but even simple formulas can have powerful results. Beginners should start with adding two or more cells together or multiplying a cell by a certain number to get the desired result.

Creating calculation formulas

More complex calculation formulas use multiple cells and add or subtract values, as well as using operators to compare two or more cells and determine a result. These formulas can be used to add up profits, subtract expenses, or even to track a certain goal.

Creating comparison formulas

Comparison formulas allow you to compare two or more cells and determine a result based on that comparison. For example, you may compare the number of sales this month to the number of sales last month to determine the difference in sales. This is a powerful tool that can be used to track trends over time.

Using conditional formatting

Conditional formatting can be used to highlight cells or text depending on certain conditions. For example, you can set a cell to be highlighted if a user enters a value that is higher than a certain amount. This feature allows you to quickly identify data points that require attention.

By using formulas, calculations, comparison formulas, and conditional formatting, you can create powerful custom dashboards in Excel for almost any purpose.

Charting and Visualization Techniques

Charts and visualizations are how people best digest data. Excel makes incorporating these techniques easy and versatile, allowing the dashboard creator to create an interactive experience while also improving the end-user’s understanding of the data. Here are details on the type of charts and visualizations you can create and the steps to include them in your dashboards.

Creating Charts

There are a wide variety of charts to choose from in Excel and you can create any of them from the same raw data. The most common types of charts are bar, line and column. These lend well to visualizing sales trends, customer segmentations, or any type of comparison in your data. Excel also allows you to create pie charts, scatter charts, and more specialized charts for time series or resource utilization.

Enhancing Charts Through Design

Once the chart has been created, you can move into customizing the design. Excel provides a number of color themes and other aesthetics that can make a chart more visually appealing and easier to understand. Filters on a chart can be adjusted to focus the audience’s attention on specific data points. Other metrics, such as trend lines, can be added to improve a chart’s accuracy and overall impact.

Visualization Techniques

In addition to charts, Excel users can also create visualizations through heat maps, geographical maps and even Gantt charts for time management. These tools can be an invaluable addition to a dashboard, helping users to understand the data in a more global and impactful way. One of the best features in Excel is the ability to add visualizations that are interactive, allowing users to further filter the data or drill down into specific points for a deeper understanding.

Setting Up Interactive Dashboards

When creating an interactive dashboard in Excel, you’ll need to consider what type of user interaction is needed. One way is to create drop-down menus that let the user decide which type of data to focus on. Another popular way to create an interactive environment is to use drop-down filters to focus on specific variables. Finally, interactive charts can be created by linking cells so that changes made in one area will cascade through the chart. This allows for an intuitive user experience that incorporates all the data in real-time.

Best Practices for Dashboards

Most businesses rely on Excel dashboards to break down large amounts of data into easily digestible bits of critical information. Before a dashboard can be created, it's important to understand the different aspects of working with custom dashboard solutions in Excel. Proper implementation and use can save businesses a significant amount of time and money. Here are a few of the best practices for making the most of custom dashboards in Excel.

Automating Tasks

One of the best ways to get the most out of a custom dashboard in Excel is to automate tedious tasks. By utilizing macros and Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) programming, users can automate a wide range of tasks within their spreadsheets. Automation allows users to easily manipulate data and quickly identify and modify incorrect inputs. Automated tasks can also save time, allowing users to focus their attention on the information gathered from their dashboards.

Utilizing Custom Functions

Another great way to make the most out of custom dashboards is to utilize and write custom functions. Custom functions allow users to manipulate large datasets quickly, easily, and efficiently. With the right combination of functions and macros, users can quickly analyze a massive amount of data and produce accurate results that help inform their decisions. Executing complicated tasks such as searching for substrings of data or calculating the volume of products sold over a given section of time becomes quick and easy.

Simplifying Navigation

Aside from automating data manipulation and utilizing custom functions, businesses should also consider ways to simplify navigation. Dashboards that contain hundreds of cells can quickly become overwhelming, so it’s important to create a dashboard that is easy to understand and navigate. By utilizing hyperlinks, user-friendly color schemes, and intuitive formatting, users can ensure that their custom dashboards are easy to understand and use.

  • Utilize hyperlinks to quickly navigate between cells.
  • Use user-friendly color schemes to draw attention to sections of the dashboard.
  • Format data clearly to make it easier to understand.
  • Apply borders to cells to create sections and categories.

Resources for Further Learning

For those seeking to continue learning about custom dashboards with Excel, there are a variety of courses, books, and research material available online. The following is a breakdown of different platforms and materials that provide further insight on the topic:

Courses/Online Tutorials

There are a variety of courses available online for those interested in creating custom dashboards with Excel. Several websites, such as,, and, offer comprehensive introductory and advanced courses on Excel that cover dashboard creation. Additionally, specific content, such as Microsoft Excel Dashboard and Reporting, can be found to supplement existing knowledge.


Books, such as Microsoft Excel 2016 Business Intelligence by Vikas Kumar, provide comprehensive overviews of how to create custom dashboards with Excel step-by-step. Printed or ebook formats are available for purchase at a range of online bookstores.

Research Articles/Blogs

  • Creating Dashboards in Excel by Louise Gaille
  • Gathering Data to Create Custom Dashboards in Excel by James Hetherington
  • How to Create Simple Dashboards in Excel by Raymond Ashley
  • Using Microsoft Excel to Develop Dashboards by John Brown

Lastly, individuals seeking further insight can explore a large range of research articles and expert blog posts available online. These resources often offer quick tutorials, help with troubleshooting problems, and resources for further research. Several examples include:


Throughout this blog post, we discussed custom dashboard solutions in Excel, demonstrating the various approaches by which they can be constructed and implemented. We showcased a few of the tools and features available in Excel to construct effective and informative dashboards, as well as provide a few examples of the many types of useful data that can be visualized with them.

Summary of Learning

In summary, we learned that custom dashboard solutions in Excel offer a host of features and options for visualizing data. By customizing the dashboards, businesses can quickly and easily create useful visuals that provide insights into a dataset. By leveraging the in-depth analytics tools of Excel, organizations can quickly interpret key data points and make informed decisions.

Benefits of Using Custom Dashboard Solutions in Excel

  • Provides a simple and effective way to examine data and interpret trends.
  • Customizable and highly versatile, providing businesses with a range of options to visualize data.
  • Offers insight into data that may be missed when relying on methods such as text descriptions, tables, and charts.
  • Provides real-time updates, giving businesses a clear and up-to-date view of their data.

From simplified data analysis to informed decision-making, custom dashboard solutions in Excel are an invaluable tool for businesses looking to get a better handle on their data. Whether creating an interactive financial model or mapping global trends, Excel’s versatile dashboard capabilities make it an ideal platform for reporting complex business data.

Expert-built dashboard templates

100+ Dashboard templates