Creating a rainbow thermometer chart

Excel 2016
When you create a thermometer chart, you are not limited to a single color bar. Instead, you can specify different colors for different value intervals. This tip shows you how to create a rainbow thermometer chart. E.g., working on some goal, you can specify risk zones for it: red zone - the risk of failure is high, yellow zone - success/fail is unknown, green zone - success is not far enough.
The thermometer Chart Excel 365

For example, a spreadsheet is set up to track daily progress towards a Goal of 1000 new sales in 10 days. Cell C16 contains the Goal value, and cell C17 contains a simple sum formula:

= SUM (C5:C14)

Cell C19 contains a formula that calculates the percent of the Goal (see Creating a simple thermometer chart):

= C17 / C16:

Data in Excel 365

To create a chart like the one above, do the following:

Calculate additional data

   1.   Add additional data to see different colors for different intervals.

In this example, the chart should display different colors for different intervals:

  •   Red   for data in the range of less than 25%:

    = IF (<value> < 25%, <value>, 25%)

  •   Orange   for the interval of more than 25% but less than 50%:

    = IF (IF (<value> - 25% < 0, 0, IF (<value> - 25% < 25%, <value> - 25%, 25%))

  •   Yellow   for the interval greater than 50% but less than 75%:

    = IF (IF (<value> - 50% < 0, 0, IF (<value> - 50% < 25%, <value> - 50%, 25%))

  •   Green   for the last interval - more than 75%:

    = IF (<value> > 75%, <value> - 75%, 0)

  • Empty area:

    = 1 - <value>:

Additional data Excel 365

Note: You can use the AND () function instead of two IF () functions. For example:

= IF (AND (<value> - 25% > 0, <value> - 25% < 25%), <value> - 25%, 25%)

Create a chart

   2.   Select the new cells with calculated values (in this example, C20:C24).

   3.   On the Insert tab, in the Charts group, click the Insert Bar or Column Chart button:

Insert Bar or Column Chart in Excel 365

Choose 100% Stacked Column:

Stacked Column Charts in Excel 365

Change the chart data series

By default, Excel creates a column chart from the range of data in one column or one row as separate columns:

Simple column chart in Excel 365

If you have a range of data in one row or one column (as in the example), you need to switch columns and rows to display the data correctly on the chart:

   4.   Do one of the following:

  • Right-click on the chart plot area, then choose Select Data... in the popup menu:
    Select Data in popup menu Excel 365

    In the Select Data Source dialog box, click the Switch Row/Column button:

    Switch Row/Column in Select Data Source dialog box Excel 365
  • Select the chart, then on the Chart Design tab, in the Data group, click the Switch Row/Column button:
    Switch Row/Column in Excel 365

Excel rebuilds the chart:

Simple column chart in Excel 365

Format the chart

   5.   Remove the horizontal (Category) axis and the chart title if needed.

To see and adjust all the data series, you need to emulate different variations of the data used for the chart (this is also useful for checking the correctness of the formulas used).

So, to customize all data series, we recommend entering a value close to the Goal. For this example, 95%.

   6.   Right-click on the data series and choose Format Data Series... in the popup menu:

Format data series in popup menu Excel 365

On the Format Data Series pane, on the Fill & Line tab, in the Fill section, choose different colors for every series (see more about filling options).

Choose color for data series in Excel 365

Note: You can choose different series by selecting each data series on the chart or the Format Data Series pane by clicking the arrow next to Chart Options:

Choose data series in Excel 365

See more about how to select the chart elements quickly.

Make any other adjustments to get the look you desire.

See also this tip in French: Comment créer un graphique de thermomètre arc-en-ciel.

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