Thursday, August 25, 2011

Gradient-free data bars in Excel 2007?

Data bars are a quick and handy tool for making numbers more visually obvious in Excel. Mostly I just use them for progress bars on long ongoing writing tasks like my the... thes... I can't say the word for some reason, nevermind.

Anyway, the problem* is that Excel 2007 forces the data bars to have gradient fade to white as they reach the top. This makes them look a bit stupid and indistinct, with the apparent rationalisation that it makes it easier to read the numbers in that cell - which is pretty weak TBH, just choose the right colours, bold your text and it won't be a problem.

A ridiculous workaround to get fake-solid bars is to set the bar colour to white and change the background colour of the cell to something with nice contrast that doesn't melt your eyes. Like neon green or piss yellow. Blue works for me...

Anyone know a better way of doing this (other than not using Excel, or upgrading to Office 2010, since then I end up with documents that don't work properly in the ancient versions of Powerpoint installed on DCU machines)?

*Well, one of the problems. The others are that the default range values make almost no sense, and that values at the minimum of the range (or lower) still produces a bar, and that values over the top of the range don't entirely fill the bar. What...

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