First, let’s look at the problem we’re trying to solve. Here we have monthly sales data. At the moment, we only have 5 months, but we’ll be adding more data over time. Now, if I insert a column chart, everything works fine. But notice if I add new data, the chart doesn’t change. It still plots the original data.  To update the chart, I’ll need to expand the range manually How can I make this chart automatically include new data? Well, one way to do it is with an Excel Table. I’ll delete the chart and add the table. To create a table, just put the cursor anywhere in the data, and use the shortcut Control-T.  I’ll hide gridlines here to make the table easier to see. Now, I’ll create the chart based on the table. It looks the same, but now if I add new data, the chart automatically includes it. Now let’s add another dynamic element to the chart. What I want to do is automatically highlight the best and worst months in the data, by changing the worst month to orange and the best month to green. I’ll start by adding two new columns to the table, one called “high” and one called “low”. Because we’re using a table, these columns are added as new data series in the chart. Now I’ll add formulas to calculate both columns. To get a top value, I’ll use the MAX function with IF: What this formula says is— if this sales value in this row is equal to the max value in the column, then use it, otherwise, return NA. We use the NA error in this case because charts automatically ignore these. For the low, or minimum value, I’ll use exactly the same formula, but change MAX to MIN. The logic is the same. If the value in this row is the minimum value, use it, otherwise NA. So at this point, we have our chart, but it’s not looking so hot. Let’s clean things up. I’ll start by making the chart bigger and adding a title. Next, I’ll select the low and high series and change the colors. Now I’ll select the original data series and change the overlap to 100%. This causes the high and low columns to plot directly on top of the original bars. I’ll also beef up the columns by reducing the gap. Finally, with the original data series still selected, I’ll add data labels, and then get rid of the gridlines and vertical axis. Now we have a decent-looking chart that dynamically responds to new data and clearly highlights the best and worst months.

Dave Bruns

Hi - I’m Dave Bruns, and I run Exceljet with my wife, Lisa. Our goal is to help you work faster in Excel. We create short videos, and clear examples of formulas, functions, pivot tables, conditional formatting, and charts.