Vintage charts in Excel: bar chart with highlight

posted Jun 25, 2014, 8:27 AM by Krisztina Szabó   [ updated Jun 28, 2014, 2:10 AM ]

Medical Student: But aren't you the grandson of the famous Dr. Victor Frankenstein who went into graveyards, dug up freshly buried corpses, and transformed dead components into...

by The FrankensTeam

It is always exciting to see vintage charts and infographics - how many good chart and formatting ideas were discovered before the Excel-era. Interesting challenge to re-create these charts with our modern techniques - so with Excel.

In Graphic presentation by Willard C. Brinton from 1939 we found a bunch of great chart examples.
This one is on page 152:

The book tells:
<<The chart represents occupational distribution in 1930 of 134 MIT graduates of the classes of 1917 1929 inclusive. The emphasis of the area of "Major Executive" tends to make the comparison a vertical one resulting in area comparison.>>

Here is the Excel-reproduction:

How we did it?
The chart type is stacked bar chart, the gap width was set to 30%. We added Series Lines to the chart - these thin lines to connect the data series. (Chart tools / Design / Add Chart Element / Lines)
The widest data series (Major Executive, in column F in the below data table) was formatted individually using pattern fill. As you can see on the original picture, this series is highlighted with stronger series lines.
Unfortunately it is not possible to set the format of these lines individually, so we used a small trick: two more columns were added to the data table: before and after the highlighted series you can see 0,2 values (column E and G). This very thin series is formatted with solid black fill.

To supress the small (below 2) values in data labels, we use custom number format with code: [>2]0,0;""

Download the Excel file.

You can find another interesting vintage chart reproduction here.
Or take a look at our gallery with >150 Excel charts.

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