Excel Tip of the Day: Show "Progress Bars" to Represent Project Status

Last Updated Mar 17, 2011 10:20 AM EDT

You don't have to be a graphic design whiz to spice up your e-mails, status reports, and team or company newsletters. Sometimes, there are easy-to-use tools hiding in plain sight to help you give your communication some much-needed flair.

Take progress reporting, for example. You're probably used to seeing the status of projects identified in with text descriptions or percentages. But why not show progress with status bars, like this:


This technique was recently discussed in How-To Geek, and it's easy to do in Excel. In fact, it's an extension of a tip I showed you a few weeks ago. Just start by entering your various projects, and then add the percentage complete in the column to the right. Widen that column to give your progress bars more room, like this:


Now select the numbered cells, choose Conditional Formatting, Data Bars, and then pick the color you like. Note that all of these options leave the number in the cell, which might be exactly what you want.

If you'd rather have progress bar that only shows the bar, and no number, then choose Conditional Formatting, Data Bars, More Rules. In the New Formatting Rule dialog box, check the checkbox that says Show Bar Only, and click OK. That's it!

More on BNET:
Excel Tip of the Day: Format Elegant Spreadsheets Without Formulas
Dramatically Improve the Appearance of Your Excel Charts and Graphs
Animate Your PowerPoint Charts

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