At this time of year, two of the things that are often on my mind are annual reports and finding heat (can you believe how cold it's been lately?). Did you know it's easy to combine these things and find the hot spots within your reports?
Take the example of our report of circulation by time of day. You can fairly easily just study the numbers and figure out what your busiest day or time of day is. Using sorting can help somewhat with this task. But there's a lot of numbers on this report, which to many people is just a lot of noise.
If we simply add a bit of color to the numbers, all of that noise gets turned into signal and this makes patterns of interest really jump out. This is very easy to do. Here's how:
- Select the block of cells you want to map in color.
In the example I'm using, I'm choosing only the columns "Mondays" through "Sundays". I'm leaving out the "Total" column because it will too heavily skew the results.
- Click the Conditional Formatting button on the Office ribbon.
- Choose Color Scales from the menu that opens.
- Choose a color scheme.
For this report, I like the color scheme named "Red - Yellow - Green" (the second icon in the top row). This makes the highest numbers the reddest and the lowest numbers the greenest. Like this:
Performing this trick on the LINKcat (system wide) circulation by time report clearly shows that weekdays from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. is our busiest time slot overall, with Mondays and Fridays being busiest. But it also highlights Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and Saturday in general as being a pretty busy day. To me, that wasn't obvious without the added colors.