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Excel Dashboards & Reports for Dummies, 2nd Edition


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Table of Contents

Introduction 1 About This Book 2 Foolish Assumptions 3 Icons Used In This Book 3 Beyond the Book 4 Where to Go from Here 5 Part I: Getting Started with Excel Dashboards and Reports 7 Chapter 1: Getting in the Dashboard State of Mind 9 Defining Dashboards and Reports 9 Defining reports 10 Defining dashboards 11 Preparing for Greatness 12 Establish the audience and purpose for the dashboard 12 Delineate the measures for the dashboard 13 Catalog the required data sources 14 Define the dimensions and filters for the dashboard 15 Determine the need for drill-down features 15 Establish the refresh schedule 16 A Quick Look at Dashboard Design Principles 16 Rule number 1: Keep it simple 17 Use layout and placement to draw focus 18 Format numbers effectively 19 Use titles and labels effectively 20 Chapter 2: Building a Super Model 21 Data Modeling Best Practices 22 Separating data, analysis, and presentation 22 Starting with appropriately structured data 25 Avoiding turning your data model into a database 28 Using tabs to document and organize your data model 29 Testing your data model before building reporting components on top of it 31 Excel Functions That Really Deliver 32 The VLOOKUP function 32 The HLookup function 36 The Sumproduct function 37 The Choose function 41 Using Smart Tables That Expand with Data 43 Converting a range to an Excel table 44 Converting an Excel table back to a range 46 Part II: Building Basic Dashboard Components 47 Chapter 3: Dressing Up Your Data Tables 49 Table Design Principles 49 Use colors sparingly 50 De-emphasize borders 52 Use effective number formatting 54 Subdue your labels and headers 55 Getting Fancy with Custom Number Formatting 57 Number formatting basics 57 Formatting numbers in thousands and millions 59 Hiding and suppressing zeroes 62 Applying custom format colors 62 Formatting dates and times 63 Chapter 4: Sparking Inspiration with Sparklines 65 Introducing Sparklines 65 Understanding Sparklines 67 Creating sparklines 68 Understanding sparkline groups 70 Customizing Sparklines 71 Sizing and merging sparkline cells 71 Handling hidden or missing data 72 Changing the sparkline type 73 Changing sparkline colors and line width 73 Using color to emphasize key data points 73 Adjusting sparkline axis scaling 74 Faking a reference line 75 Specifying a date axis 77 Autoupdating sparkline ranges 78 Chapter 5: Formatting Your Way to Visualizations 79 Enhancing Reports with Conditional Formatting 79 Applying basic conditional formatting 80 Adding your own formatting rules manually 88 Show only one icon 91 Show Data Bars and icons outside of cells 94 Representing trends with Icon Sets 96 Using Symbols to Enhance Reporting 98 The Magical Camera Tool 102 Finding the Camera tool 102 Using the Camera tool 103 Enhancing a dashboard with the Camera tool 105 Chapter 6: The Pivotal Pivot Table 107 An Introduction to the Pivot Table 107 The Four Areas of a Pivot Table 108 Values area 108 Row area 109 Column area 109 Filter area 110 Creating Your First Pivot Table 111 Changing and rearranging your pivot table 114 Adding a report filter 115 Keeping your pivot table fresh 116 Customizing Your Pivot Table Reports 119 Changing the pivot table layout 119 Customizing field names 120 Applying numeric formats to data fields 122 Changing summary calculations 122 Suppressing subtotals 124 Showing and hiding data items 127 Hiding or showing items without data 128 Sorting your pivot table 132 Creating Useful Pivot-Driven Views 133 Producing top and bottom views 133 Creating views by month, quarter, and year 137 Creating a percent distribution view 139 Creating a YTD totals view 141 Creating a month-over-month variance view 142 Part III: Building Advanced Dashboard Components 145 Chapter 7: Charts That Show Trending 147 Trending Dos and Don?ts 147 Using chart types appropriate for trending 148 Starting the vertical scale at zero 150 Leveraging Excel?s logarithmic scale 151 Applying creative label management 153 Comparative Trending 156 Creating side-by-side time comparisons 156 Creating stacked time comparisons 158 Trending with a secondary axis 160 Emphasizing Periods of Time 163 Formatting specific periods 163 Using dividers to mark significant events 165 Representing forecasts in your trending components 166 Other Trending Techniques 167 Avoiding overload with directional trending 167 Smoothing data 168 Chapter 8: Grouping and Bucketing Data 173 Creating Top and Bottom Displays 173 Incorporating top and bottom displays into dashboards 174 Using pivot tables to get top and bottom views 175 Using Histograms to Track Relationships and Frequency 178 Adding formulas to group data 179 Adding a cumulative percent 183 Using a pivot table to create a histogram 185 Emphasizing Top Values in Charts 187 Chapter 9: Displaying Performance against a Target 191 Showing Performance with Variances 191 Showing Performance against Organizational Trends 193 Using a Thermometer-Style Chart 194 Using a Bullet Graph 195 Creating a bullet graph 196 Adding data to your bullet graph 200 Final thoughts on formatting bullet graphs 200 Showing Performance against a Target Range 203 Part IV: Advanced Reporting Techniques 207 Chapter 10: Macro-Charged Dashboarding 209 Why Use a Macro? 209 Recording Your First Macro 210 Running Your Macros 214 Enabling and Trusting Macros 217 Macro-enabled file extensions 217 Enabling macro content 217 Setting up trusted locations 218 Excel Macro Examples 219 Building navigation buttons 219 Dynamically rearranging pivot table data 220 Offering one-touch reporting options 221 Chapter 11: Giving Users an Interactive Interface 223 Getting Started with Form Controls 223 Finding Form controls 224 Adding a control to a worksheet 226 Using the Button Control 227 Using the Check Box Control 228 Check box example: Toggling a chart series on and off 229 Using the Option Button Control 232 Option Button Example: Showing Many Views through One Chart 233 Using the Combo Box Control 236 Combo Box Example: Changing Chart Data with a Drop-Down Selector 237 Using the List Box Control 239 List Box Example: Controlling Multiple Charts with One Selector 241 Chapter 12: Adding Interactivity with Pivot Slicers 245 Understanding Slicers 245 Creating a Standard Slicer 247 Formatting Slicers 250 Size and placement 250 Data item columns 250 Slicer color and style 251 Other slicer settings 252 Controlling Multiple Pivot Tables with One Slicer 253 Creating a Timeline Slicer 254 Using Slicers as Form Controls 256 Part V: Working with the Outside World 261 Chapter 13: Using External Data for Your Dashboards and Reports 263 Importing Data from Microsoft Access 263 The drag-and-drop method 264 The Microsoft Access Export wizard 265 The Get External Data icon 266 Importing Data from SQL Server 271 Chapter 14: Sharing Your Workbook with the Outside World 275 Protecting Your Dashboards and Reports 275 Securing access to the entire workbook 275 Limiting access to specific worksheet ranges 279 Protecting the workbook structure 283 Linking Your Excel Dashboards to PowerPoint 284 Creating a link between Excel and PowerPoint 284 Manually updating links to capture updates 286 Automatically updating links 288 Distributing Your Dashboards via a PDF 289 Distributing Your Dashboards to SkyDrive 291 Limitations when Publishing to the Web 294 Part VI: The Part of Tens 295 Chapter 15: Ten Chart Design Principles 297 Avoid Fancy Formatting 297 Skip the Unnecessary Chart Junk 299 Format Large Numbers Where Possible 301 Use Data Tables instead of Data Labels 302 Make Effective Use of Chart Titles 304 Sort Your Data before Charting 304 Limit the Use of Pie Charts 305 Don?t Be Afraid to Parse Data into Separate Charts 306 Maintain Appropriate Aspect Ratios 307 Don?t Be Afraid to Use Something Other Than a Chart 308 Chapter 16: Ten Questions to Ask Before Distributing Your Dashboard 309 Does My Dashboard Present the Right Information? 309 Does Everything on My Dashboard Have a Purpose? 309 Does My Dashboard Prominently Display the Key Message? 310 Can I Maintain This Dashboard? 310 Does My Dashboard Clearly Display Its Scope and Shelf Life? 311 Is My Dashboard Well Documented? 311 Is My Dashboard Overwhelmed with Formatting and Graphics? 312 Does My Dashboard Overuse Charts When Tables Will Do? 312 Is My Dashboard User-Friendly? 313 Is My Dashboard Accurate? 314 Index 315

About the Author

Michael Alexander is a Microsoft Certified Application Developer (MCAD) and author of several books on Microsoft Access and Excel. He has more than 15 years experience consulting and developing Office solutions and has been named a Microsoft MVP for his ongoing contributions to the Excel community.

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