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Reporting Hierarchical Data

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In previous sections, we looked at pivot tables and created dashboards using our pivot tables. We even used our pivot tables to compare and summarise our data. What we have not considered is different ways of visualising and charting our data.

In this step, we will explore treemaps and sunbursts, which simplifies visualisation and representation of hierarchical data.

It is important to remember that not all chart types are compatible with pivot tables. To use charts that are not supported by pivots, you can summarise your data from your pivot with formulas.

Treemaps

A treemap chart provides a hierarchical view of your data and makes it easy to spot patterns, such as which items are a store’s best sellers. The tree branches are represented by rectangles and each sub-branch is shown as a smaller rectangle. The treemap chart displays categories by colour and proximity and can easily show lots of data which would be difficult with other chart types.
Treemap charts are good for comparing proportions within the hierarchy, however, treemap charts aren’t great at showing hierarchical levels between the largest categories and each data point.

Sunbursts

The sunburst chart is ideal for displaying hierarchical data. Each level of the hierarchy is represented by one ring or circle with the innermost circle as the top of the hierarchy. A sunburst chart without any hierarchical data (one level of categories), looks similar to a doughnut chart. However, a sunburst chart with multiple levels of categories shows how the outer rings relate to the inner rings. The sunburst chart is most effective at showing how one ring is broken into its contributing pieces.
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Of these two charts available in Excel, which do you prefer and why?

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How to Use Microsoft Excel for Data Analysis

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