Saturday, February 11, 2012

Improving the world one chart at a time

Really? Almost 2 years since I last posted?

Since I started a new job 2 weeks after my last post, let's blame that, ok?


I was sent an Excel chart a couple days ago with a simple request: How do I get the chart to update automatically when a new days' production numbers are entered?

Here's the chart:

Yeah, pretty much unreadable, right? I knew if I didn't address this right away I would be kicked out the "Just Say No To Bad Charts" club.

My solution is to create multiple charts in a dashboard layout, with Total Production at the top, and drilldowns to the types of equipment used. This allows the reader to track overall performance, then drill down to individual workstation performance, using the same data. Clean, easy to understand, easy to compare like-pieces of equipment.

Because I created it, I obviously think it is superior to the original. :-)

As for the answer to the original question, it is easy enough:

When you click in a chart, a couple things happen:

1. A "Chart Menu" appears above the tool bar. You can click the "Design" tab and select the button for "Select Data", and

2. A couple of boxes will appear around the source data table. You can click the bottom right corner of the blue box and drag it to cover the are you expect to use for future data.