Chart 001

In the beginning of this year 2018,  I began a new hobby to improve my data visualization skills in Excel.  This hobby is based on the idea of re-creating interesting charts that appeared on articles from the most important and powerful newspaper of economics and business in Perú:


After reading various books from Edward Tufte, Stephen Few, Dona M. Wong, Colin Ware and many others, on the subject of visualizing and presenting effectively data and information,  I have decided to share my “re-designs” with other who may be interested.  Just to be clear,  I do not seek to critic any chart that appeared on the articles mentioned, rather I would like to suggest adjustments if needed to the charts presented.

The following article titled and translated into English; “United States conditions China to exonerate it from new duties.” is about the new conditions the United States is currently negotiating with China and other world economies. In it, I found a chart that called my attention:


The following chart presents the exports in thousands of millions of dollars between the United States and South Korea between the years of 2008 until 2017.  You can easily notice that both countries have grown their exports from 2008.  What got me intrigued on this chart was the data labels on the blue and orange columns representing the total amount of exports in dollars for United States and South Korea respectively.  I thought the chart was too loaded with data labels.

So after evaluating this discomfort on the previous chart, this would be my visual proposal:1.2In this visual suggestion, my comments are the following:

  • I utilized lines instead of columns because we are dealing with time-series in years.
  • I utilized the original colors and positioned the data labels above and below the respective lines for each country, so that the data labels are not too crowded next to each other.
  • The line dots between the two main lines are called lines of maximums and minimums that you can apply in charts of Excel.
  • Usually when you create a chart from scratch in Excel,  it comes with many unnecesary parts, so in this sense I eliminated the main horizontal gridlines.
  • Between both countries there are differences of exports each year, so I wanted to add that difference on the chart in order the save the reader the task of doing the calculation on her/his head.  I positioned such differences below the horizontal x-axis labels of years. I proceeded with this because I did not want to load the chart with more data labels so a brief example is; in the year of 2015 there was a difference of exports between the United States and South Korea of 18.6 thousand millions of dollars (=83.7 – 65.1)

Finally, in the following video I will show you how to re-create this chart in Excel.  You can download the workbook here and you can find the chart on worksheet named “1”.

If you found this article useful, please share it with others who might find it relevant as well. Any comments, please share them on the comments of the video in Youtube.

Thank you for your attention.

Keep Exceling,