The Need to Compare
Decision making is an important factor that forms part of all everyday business situations, whether the decisions are big or small they are still to be made. The bigger the risk involved in making a decision the more analysis goes in to preparing for an answer. With Excel’s logical expressions it is easy to represent data from over a period of time graphically with comparison charts.
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Creating Comparison Charts using Excel
When creating comparison charts with Excel to reflect two sets of data over a period of for example the video sales for the first six months of the year for 2005 and 2006, the most common graphs that are used are line graphs, bar graphs and column graphs.
Setting up the data you wish to graphically represent is the first step, for comparison charts you need to have two sets of data that you wish to compare. If we remain with the concept of video sales for the first six months of the year 2005 and 2006 your data would look something like this.
The data can also be entered into the spreadsheet in columns instead of rows. With the data as represented above you would be able to create comparison charts. To Initiate the Chart Wizard which is an Excel tool that assists in making comparison charts you highlight the cells that contain the data you would like to represent. Select Insert from the Excel toolbar and then charts.
A dialog box will appear, this is your Chart Wizard, this is the Excel tool that will facilitate the manufacturing of comparison charts. From the Chart type list select either the bar, column or line graph depending on the information that you would like to graphically represent. Remember when making a choice between bar and column comparison charts, the values on the bar graphs are always easier to interpret than those of the column graph. Click next to go to the next step, here you have to remember to tell the Wizard whether it should read the data in rows or columns, in the data example above the data would have to be read in rows. If you do not make the right selection your comparisons charts will be an incorrect graphical representation of the data you have inputed.
The third step is an important step as this is the step where you label the different parts of your comparison charts. These labels include:
- Main title: Example video sales representation over the first six months of the year 2005 and 2006.
- The X axis: in the above example this will be ‘Months’
- The Y axis: the number of video sales
- You can also choose whether or not you can make use of a legend which in the case of comparison charts would be necessary to differentiate between the year 2005 and the year 2006.
- In the Legend tab you can also select where, in relation to your graph you would like the legend to be positioned.
Also you can label the data labels, ie give the different colors or lines depending on which of the comparison charts you chose, and then label the months on the X-axis.
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