Time Saving Tip: Make a Chart Template
Have you ever had a project where you had to create a series of charts with identical formatting? For example, a 1-page summary of every program you operate, county you serve, or district in your region? Creating a chart template in Excel will save you so much time.
The Original Chart
Imagine that you have to create a visual overview of key data for 10 districts you serve. You start with your first district's data set, sort the data, and spend 10-15 minutes reformatting Excel’s default chart using all the best practices around chart readability.
When you're done, you have a beautifully chart formatted with branded colors and a descriptive title, which might look like this:
Then you realize you have to do it 9 more times for the remaining districts. Does that thought make your head hurt? Instead of starting from Excel’s default formatting each time, you can turn your chart into a chart template. I estimate this will cut your formatting time for each chart by 90%.
Not only will creating a template save time and headaches, it will ensure every formatting detail is exactly the same across charts.
Turning the Chart into a Template
With the chart open in Excel, I right click on it and select “Save as template.” I give it a name to distinguish it from other chart types. For this chart type I chose “District Federal Allocation Chart.” Then press Save.
Inserting the Chart Template
Now, after I set up the data for my next district in the same structure as my first district, all I have to do is highlight the data, go to the Insert tab, and click the small arrow in the bottom right-hand corner of the "Charts" section.
An "Insert Chart" box pops up. In the "All Charts" tab, click on the Templates folder in the left-hand column.
There I see the template I just saved, so I click on that and press OK.
This is what the new chart looks like:
The new chart retained the exact title from the original chart, so I need to update that and adjust the sizing so that the subtitle is visible.
Here is the final version:
And with that 30 seconds of editing complete, I’m ready to move on to my next district!
This trick has saved me so much time and I hope it saves you time too.
Would you try this for your next set of charts?