Exploring Excel 2013 for BI Tip #11: Color Scales

28 08 2013

As I mentioned in my original post, Exploring Excel 2013 as Microsoft’s BI Client, I will be posting tips regularly about using Excel 2013.  Much of the content will be a result of my daily interactions with business users and other BI devs.  In order to not forget what I learn or discover, I write it down … here.  I hope you too will discover something new you can use.  Enjoy!

Using Color Scales

In the last tip we covered using conditional formatting with Data Bars. Next up is Color Scales.

What Are Color Scales?

Color Scales are a conditional formatting feature that can be applied to cells in Excel.  Color scales “color” the cell based on the data that the formatting is applied to.  The color scale feature works with pivot tables and standard cells in Excel.  Our focus will be on using color scale with pivot tables.

You will find the option to add data bars on the Conditional Formatting button on the HOME ribbon as shown below.

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First starting with a single column, we can use use Quick Analysis or the Ribbon to apply our Color Scale rules. While the data bar used size to highlight the differences in the data, color scales will, obviously, use color. The most common color scale to use is to use Red for lower numbers to green for higher with yellow or white in the middle. Let’s apply that to our column of data.

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This is particularly effective when working with percentages or other values where red can mean “bad”.  Keep in mind that you can change the order of the color scaling so that a higher number can be red as well.  You can also use two color scales when that is all that is needed.  I have used two color scales in cases where only two values are present such as a Boolean value.

When setting up the formatting, you may notice a “box” in the corner.  This can be used to tell Excel how to apply the formatting.

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This works great when you pick the first cell in question then use this short cut to set the formatting based on how you want to apply the changes. The  only rule type that applies in this scenario is the “Format all cells based on their values” which options are shown in the shortcut.

While a very simple visualization technique it can be to highlight differences in a compelling way.

Next tip will cover Icon Sets. See you then.





Traveling and Talking to Wrap Up 2013

16 08 2013

I am writing this blog post en route to New York City for SQL Saturday #235. This begins a fairly busy travel and speaking schedule for me this year. Having spent much of the summer at home with my family which was great, I now embark on some trips, primarily out east.

For starters, I am kicking off my busy end of summer, beginning of imagefall, in New York City. I am looking forward to being there for the second time. This should be a great event. As Regional Mentor for the NorthEast this trip allows me to be in that region for an event.  I will be speaking on Building BI Solutions with Microsoft Excel.

Next, up is some quality time in Boston. I have a contract that will put me in downtown Boston for about 4 weeks. After that trip, I cm-logoskip a week and then return to speak at CodeMastery which is a Magenic event in late September.  If you are in the Boston area, I will be speaking on the difference between SQL Server Analysis Services Models – the Multidimensional and Tabular Model Smackdown.  More details of this event will be coming soon, but pencil it in for Thursday 9/26.

While not traveling far, I am speaking at SQL Saturday #238 in Minneapolis right before PASS Summit in Charlotte. This is right in my backyard, so to speak, and I look forward to another great event in the Upper Midwest. I currently do not have the sessions that were picked, but look forward to seeing you there.

October will be spent at PASS Summit. While I was accepted to speak this year, I look forward to meeting a number of people at the Community Zone and the other events at the conference. I will follow that up by going to SQL Saturday # BI Edition in Charlotte. While I have not received word about speaking, I plan to attend the event in either case. Should be a nice way to wrap up my time there.

In November, I am headed to Atlanta for another CodeMastery event. This should be a nice time to visit there and spend some time with people there.

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Upon returning from Atlanta, I am back in Minneapolis for a CodeMastery event there. Having had a major role in running this event over the past couple of years, I am truly looking forward to speaking there. Check out http://codemastery.com for details on all of the CodeMastery events as they are announced.

Modern Apps Live!SQL Server Live!

Finally, at least at this time, I will be presenting 5 times right before Thanksgiving. This will be my first time presenting at SQL Live and second time presenting at Modern Apps Live. Join us for this awesome 360 Live event in Orlando.

I look forward to meeting new people and visiting with old friends throughout all of these events and travels. If you see me there, say Hi and ask for one of my “famous” superhero cards! See you around.








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