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Heat Table How-To in Excel

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Published on

April 2015
Ann K. Emery

Just because I adore graphs doesn’t mean that I shun data tables. I insert the occasional table inside the body of my report, and each report’s appendices are full of tables, tables, and more tables.

When creating traditional tables, I follow the Dark Horse Analytics guide. When I’m presenting tables in a presentation, webinar, or full-color report, I create heat tables.

In heat tables, higher numbers get darker colors and lower numbers get lighter colors. Viewers find patterns in the data much faster than if they were reading line by line of text from the table.

Here’s how to make them in good ol’ Excel.

Published in: Data & Analytics
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Heat Table How-To in Excel

  1. 1. Heat Table Tutorial in Microsoft Excel Ann K. Emery annkemery.com
  2. 2. Ann K. Emery www.annkemery.com 1. Highlight the cells you want to color-code. Ignore the categories on the left. Ignore the table headers along the top. Just select the actual numbers or percentages in the body of the table.
  3. 3. Ann K. Emery www.annkemery.com 2. Click on the Conditional Formatting button. It’s hiding in plain sight on the Home tab.
  4. 4. Ann K. Emery www.annkemery.com 3. Select one of the Color Scales. For sequential patterns, use a one-color scale (e.g., green faded into white). For diverging patterns, use a two-color scale (e.g., red versus blue).
  5. 5. Ann K. Emery www.annkemery.com Congratulations, you’re finished! Start exploring your data. Which patterns stand out now?
  6. 6. Ann K. Emery www.annkemery.com Bonus! Add white borders to your cells. White borders help with color printing and with black-and-white printing (so the cells don't bleed into each other).
  7. 7. Ann K. Emery www.annkemery.com Bonus! Add white borders to your cells. White borders help with color printing and with black-and-white printing (so the cells don't bleed into each other).
  8. 8. Ann K. Emery www.annkemery.com Bonus! Sort data from greatest to least. Or, from least to great, depending on which pattern you want to emphasize. Use the Sort feature or use Filters (Home  Sort & Filter  Filter).
  9. 9. Ann K. Emery www.annkemery.com Bonus! Sort data from greatest to least. Or, from least to great, depending on which pattern you want to emphasize. Use the Sort feature or use Filters (Home  Sort & Filter  Filter).
  10. 10. Ann K. Emery www.annkemery.com Bonus! Adjust print settings to share via printing or PDF. Add a title; repeat the table headings at the top of each page; add a footer with the date and/or page numbers; and adjust the font type and font size.
  11. 11. Ann K. Emery www.annkemery.com Bonus! Adjust print settings to share via printing or PDF. Add a title; repeat the table headings at the top of each page; add a footer with the date and/or page numbers; and adjust the font type and font size.
  12. 12. Ann K. Emery www.annkemery.com Bonus! Customize the color palette. Highlight the cells again and return to Home  Conditional Formatting  Color Scales  More Rules.
  13. 13. Bonus! Customize the color palette. Select new colors to correspond with the lowest and highest values in your table. You might even match the RGB codes to your organization’s logo. Ann K. Emery www.annkemery.com
  14. 14. Bonus! Customize the color palette. Select new colors to correspond with the lowest and highest values in your table. You might even match the RGB codes to your organization’s logo. Ann K. Emery www.annkemery.com
  15. 15. Bonus! Customize the color palette. Select new colors to correspond with the lowest and highest values in your table. You might even match the RGB codes to your organization’s logo. Ann K. Emery www.annkemery.com
  16. 16. Bonus! Customize the color palette. Select new colors to correspond with the lowest and highest values in your table. You might even match the RGB codes to your organization’s logo. Ann K. Emery www.annkemery.com
  17. 17. Heat Table Tutorial in Microsoft Excel Ann K. Emery annkemery.com

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