In a previous post, I showed how to make a forecast chart in Excel with a dotted line. This time around, I’m going to go one step further and show you how to create a chart that shows a range of possible values. This is useful in the event that you want to show some flexibility in your forecast and where providing a range might be a more realistic option.
For this example, I’m going to project a company’s future dividend payment. Below, I have a a record of the past dividend payments along with the annual rate of increase:
In order to create a range, I’m going to set both a high rate of growth and a low one. Since the company has made 10% increases in the past, I’m going to use that as the high. And for the low rate of growth, that will be 5%. Using those different rates, I can set up additional columns for what the dividend would be if the low rate were used and if the high one were applied. I will also create a column to calculate the difference between the high and low amounts, as well as one for a base amount — which will just be equal to the low amount. This will be used for stacking the difference on top of it to create the desired area chart:
Creating the chart
Now that the data is set up, I’m going to start creating the chart. Using a combination approach, I’ll set a line chart for the actual, low, and high columns. And for the base and difference amounts, I will set those to be stacked area charts. The growth rate I’ll leave as is because I will remove that once the chart is created:
Next, I’ll right-click on the chart and click on Select Data. From the next screen, I will untick the box for the Growth Rate:
Then, I will right-click on the x-axis, select Format Axis and select the option to put Categories in reverse order. Now my chart looks as follows:
Now, I’ll remove the legend and format the base color, which is currently grey, to a blank fill color:
I’ll change the line color for the high amount to green, the low amount to red, and apply dashed lines to both. For the actuals, I’ll set that to a black line. And for the area chart that is in green right now, I will apply a Pattern Fill and use a checkered pattern:
With all those changes, my updated forecast chart now looks like this:
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