Ideal ranges in excel charts?
October 11, 2012 11:13 PM   Subscribe

Displaying ideal ranges in the plot area of an Excel 2007 chart. Possible?

Say I have a table in a worksheet that tracks temperature data. The table is like this:

Day | Temp (F)

Day is plotted on X, of course, and temp on Y.

I'd like to create a chart that has two components: an actual line showing daily recorded temperatures, and a filled in area behind that line that displays an ideal temperature range.

I know I can do conditional formatting in the table itself, but I'd really like the ideal range to be displayed handily in the plot area of a chart. I assumed I could do this using a secondary axis, but I'm rather stumped as to how this might be accomplished. It seems like this would be a common thing people would like to do, but no amount of googling has revealed a method to accomplish this.

If Excel 2007 can't do this, is there another spreadsheet program (preferably free) that can do this? Can Excel 2010 do this? Or is there something I could export the CSV data into that would allow this type of visualization? Preferably without needing to write code. I can write code. I don't want to.

posted by xyzzy to Computers & Internet (2 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You can try the following in Excel 2007:

Set up your data as follows:

Column A: Day Labels (most likely dates)
Column B: Daily Temperatures
Column C: Low Temperatures for that day
Column D: High Temperatures for the day
Column E: Difference between the High & low range (i.e., column D minus column C)

For example your data might look like this:

A1: Day
B1: Temp
C1: Low Temp
D1: High Temp
E1: Adj High Temp
A2: 12-Oct-12
B2: 12
C2: 10
D2: 15
E2: 5 (this will be the following formula) =D2-C2
A3: 13-Oct-12
B3: 14
C3: 12
D3: 16
E3: 4 (this will be the following formula) =D3-C3

1. Using the Ctrl key, select the data in columns A, B, C, and E (not column D) and create a stacked area chart (make sure it is a stacked area chart).

2. You'll get a chart with two areas on it. Right Click the bottom area and go to Format data series --> fill and set the fill to no fill. This will hide the bottom part of the chart that you don't need.

3. At this point, you'll have plotted the temperature ranges

4. Using the Ctrl key, select the data in column A and B.

5. Use Ctrl C to copy the data you've highlighted in columns A and B

6. Select the chart, and use Ctrl V to paste the daily temperature data on to the chart.

7. At this point, you'll get a new area chart sitting on top of the temperature ranges you plotted previously.

8. Right click on the newly created stacked area chart showing the daily temperature, and select "Change series chart type"

9. Select line chart for the chart type.

10. Now you should have the daily temperature plotted as a line chart, with the temperature range behind it as an area chart.
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear at 11:47 PM on October 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Oh my gosh, you are a GENIUS.
posted by xyzzy at 12:50 AM on October 12, 2012

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