excel dashboard kpi template

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Visually Effective Excel Dashboards

Create eye-catching Excel Dashboards with actionable tips you can use right away.
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1. Create emphasis

Add a strong contrast to headings to show at a glance the KPIs on display in your dashboard.

excel dashboards reports template
Contrast on the heading: Actual Revenue VS. Budget

subtle contrast on alternating table rows visually separates them, improving readability.

excel templates reports dashboards
Subtle contrast on the table rows

2. Connect different elements

Show relationships with alignment.

For example, here we’ve aligned the ΔPY to a centre line. For an increase, it’s shown to the right of the centre line. For a decrease, to the left.

excel dashboards template reports
ΔPY aligned left of the centre line for decrease and right of the line for increase.

Using this layout trick and colour on these bars makes this more readable and more quantifiable, as we count shapes easier from distance.

excel templates reports dashboards
Legible from a distance: performance.

Table Alignment

Numbers in a table should be right aligned in their cell so you can immediately tell larger or smaller numbers apart. The convention is to align numbers to the right. Generally, text is left-aligned.

Headers can be an exception to this, based on preference.

excel template dashboard report
Numbers should be right-aligned. The header is centre-aligned here.

3. Draw parallels and create associations

Two things that should be repeated consistently in your dashboard are abbreviations and color usage.

The common visual shorthand of a down red arrow and green up arrow is repeated in this table, each time positioned next to a -% or +%.

excel dashboard report template
Using arrow icons in addition to colour increases legibility from distance of this data.
excel templates reports dashboards
From afar, the viewer can visually differentiate high performing or low performing companies, before going up close to examine details.

4. Organise content and create focal points

Think about proximity. What will you choose to group or separate?

This example shows %ΔPY grouped with its visual (a conditionally-formatted bar chart), to imply they are connected.

excel template dashboard reports
Metric and visual grouped together

White space separates this set from %ΔB and its visual.

This use of proximity helps clarity and adds visual punctuation in what would otherwise be a densely-packed table.

5. Balance large elements with smaller elements

In this dashboard, the large table on top is balanced with 2 mid-sized charts below it. The borders are also aligned.

This balance unifies the different elements and reinforces their interconnectedness.

Leila Gharani

I'm a 6x Microsoft MVP with over 15 years of experience implementing and professionals on Management Information Systems of different sizes and nature.

My background is Masters in Economics, Economist, Consultant, Oracle HFM Accounting Systems Expert, SAP BW Project Manager. My passion is teaching, experimenting and sharing. I am also addicted to learning and enjoy taking online courses on a variety of topics.