Charting multi-dimensional (multivariate) data on 2D paper or
computer screen is a challenge. Several of
Excel's standard chart types are often used to chart 3 - 4 variable
situations even though these chart types are not effective from a
data visualizations standpoint. Stacked/clustered bar charts,
multiple series area charts are frequently used even though
they are difficult for viewers to interpret.
Cleveland advocates the use of trellis like displays, Tufte
advocates the use of small multiple charts. Advanced statistical and
graphical packages allow users to prepare trellis, small multiple
While not a default chart type, Excel users can develop trellis
charts in Excel by using standard Excel XY charts, data
transformation to shift data points to coordinates for appropriate
panel and dummy axis series to label axes.
What is an appropriate name for the multi-plot charts in Excel? The term trellis display has been trademarked by
Software (S-Plus). The term small - multiples has long been associated with
who has been very critical of Excel charting. I
have coined the term "panel chart" to reflect the fact
that the overall chart is composed of a series of panels that
contain individual plots
within a single Excel chart.
Excel Panel Chart Examples
The following example Excel panel charts show you what you can do
with Excel, data transformation and dummy axis series. Click the
link to go to the tutorial page to see how the panel chart was made
and to download the demonstration workbook.