Published Now and Again for Business Users of Microsoft Excel.
Bullet Graphs + Normal Distributions
+Try Excel 2007 in Your Browser
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
If you like this newsletter, please forward it to
other Excel users.
This month, you'll find two major new articles at ExcelUser.
Excel Bullet Graphs
In recent years, gauges have become The Big Idea in management reporting. If
gauges are a good idea for operating your car, the reasoning goes,
software versions of those gauges are a great idea for operating your company.
But gauges offer several significant problems, as I explained in my article,
Down With Gauges! They consume way too much real estate in a typical report.
They distract the eye with massive amounts of "chart junk". And Excel does a
poor job supporting gauges.
Stephen Few has invented an excellent alternative to gauges: bullet graphs. They
provide the same information that gauges do; but they present the information
more clearly in less space. And Excel can generate them nicely. I recently
completed an article that explains how to create bullet graphs in Excel. You'll
find the bullet graph
article at this link.
Excel Functions for Normal
It's amazing how many things in the world are normally distributed...from the
width of the stripes on a zebra to the magnitude of errors in many kinds of
Fortunately, Excel provides several spreadsheet functions for working with
normal distributions. Unfortunately, many of us have forgotten everything we
ever knew about statistics.
This month, in An Introduction to Excel's
Normal Distribution Functions I took special effort to describe what each
statistics function actually means, and to provide an illustration of its use.
Also, I provide two different methods for returning a random number from a
Try Excel 2007 Today
As you probably have heard, Microsoft has delayed the ship date for Office 2007
to the end of this year. However, you can test out Excel 2007 and the other
Office 2007 products today.
Microsoft offers two ways that you can do this. First, you can sign up for the
Office 2007 beta, then download and install the program. Second, you can work
with it using only your web browser.
You can find links and other information here.
My concern about Excel 2007 is that its new user interface will make Excel users
-- particularly experienced Excel users -- less efficient than they are today.
However, I could be wrong.
The page that I linked to
above includes several questions that I hope you'll answer about your own
experience with Excel 2007. After you get the chance to try the product, I hope
you'll tell me what you think of it.
Recently Answered Questions
As I mentioned last month, if you have any questions about using Excel in
business, send them my way. Some of my responses are the length of full
Here are links to recent questions and answers:
Use VBA Functions to Return Excel Document Properties.
VBA functions can return information about your document,
that spreadsheet functions don't. Here's an introduction to
Excel's BuiltinDocumentProperties property.
Strategies for an Excel System For Invoicing or Estimating.
Do you sell specific products or services? This item
discusses ways to design a spreadsheet system to
prepare your invoice or estimate.
Read a Text File with VBA, And Write the Text to Excel.
This macro illustrates how to read a text file into Excel
and then write it to a spreadsheet.
Consolidating Excel Data
From Many Workbooks. Many workbooks with many sheets, each with
many rows and columns of data. How can a company consolidate it
Use a Combo Box with many criteria in an Excel database. How can users
look up a part number in an Excel database using several
different items that describe the product?
Enough for now.