Below is a set of Panel Charts. In this case they’re actually 4 separate charts aligned close together.
Comparing one chart to the next isn’t easy since each chart uses a different vertical axis scale:
If we could put all charts on the same axis then we could remove the 3 superfluous axes and ensure comparison from one chart to the next is unambiguous, like this:
We could combine all four charts into one Panel Chart, but there’s no built in Panel Chart option in Excel so this means a lot of fiddling about (unless you have an Add-in for it).
Another way to do this is to fix the minimum and maximum of each axis in the Axis Options which is fine if the data in the charts isn’t likely to change.
To Fix Axis Min and Max
Select the axis > right-click > Format Axis > Axis Options (or in Excel 2010/13 double click the axis) – which opens the dialog box for Excel 2007/10 below (Excel 2013 inset):
As I said, this method is fine if you don’t expect your data to change, but if your chart is likely to get updated with new data, or it’s linked to a Data Validation List or Combo Box which allows the user to change the data displayed in the chart (like the example below), then fixing the axis minimum and maximum will omit any new data from the chart which falls outside of the range.
Note: If you'd like to learn how to make interactive charts like the one above, please check out my Excel Dashboard course.
When creating dynamic charts I like to use what I call the 'Ghost Series' to fix the axis minimum and maximum dynamically based on the overall MIN and MAX values for all of the charts.
I call it a Ghost Series because the line is hidden in the chart by formatting it with ‘No line'. You can see in the image below that the Ghost Series (circled in orange) is selected in the chart, but you can’t see a line joining the two points.
Calculating the Ghost Series
The Ghost series calculations are straight forward; see cell G5 in the image below for the maximum value formula.
And cell G16 contains the Minimum formula which is =MIN(C5:F16). Easy peasy.
Note: We only need two values for the Ghost and you can put them anywhere in cells G5:G16, they don't have to be at the beginning and end of the range like mine.
Add Ghost Series to Charts
Now all you do is add the Ghost Series to each of your charts which will ensure the axes for all charts is the same.
Tip: A quick way to do this is simply copy the Ghost Series cells G5:G16 > click on the chart > CTRL+V to paste them in.
Then format the line with ‘No line’: select line > right-click > Format Data Series (or double click the line in Excel 2010/13) > Line Color > choose ‘No Line’.
If the values in your charts update then the Ghost series will automatically adjust accordingly.
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