Data Bars – Feedback Please

Today’s author: Scott Ruble, the program manager who leads the charting and visualization efforts in Excel.  Scott is looking for some feedback on potential changes to data bar behaviour.

Excel 2007 has a conditional formatting feature that graphically displays bars in a cell to represent the value of the cell.  This feature is called Data Bars.  You can see an example of this by using the following steps:

  1. In Excel 2007, enter 1, 2, 3 in cells A1, A2, and A3 respectively.
  2. Select cells A1:A3.
  3. From the “Home” tab, click on the “Conditional Formatting” button and select one of the “Data Bar” color options. 

You should get something that looks like the following.

For future releases of Excel, we are assessing making some modifications to how Data Bars are displayed, and we would like to get some feedback from the community.
For each of the four sample data sets below, please leave a comment and describe how you would like to see the bars displayed.  Please consider things such as bar length, differentiation between the bars, color, fill and other aspects you feel are important.  For bar length, you can represent this by typing vertical bars in the blog comments to represent each unit of length.  For example, using the 1, 2, 3 data set from above, this could be shown as:


Or you can just describe your thoughts using words – whatever makes the most sense.   Thanks for your time and thoughts. 

Scenario 1 – data values contain a zero

Scenario 2 – data values are spaced far apart

Scenario 3 – data values are closely spaced

Scenario 4 – data values contain a negative number