How Do I Create Control Charts in Excel?

A control chart is a useful tool for studying how processes or other data changes over time. The chart consists of four lines -- the data, a straight line representing the average, as well as an upper control limit and a lower control limit.

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Weekly spending is compared to the average and upper and lower controls.
credit: Screenshot courtesy of Microsoft.

Step

Open a blank Excel worksheet. Type the name you want to use for your data in cell B1 and then enter the data for your chart in that column. In our example, 12 numbers are entered in cells B2 through B13.

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Enter the data in a single column.
credit: Screenshot courtesy of Microsoft.
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Calculate the average.
credit: Screenshot courtesy of Microsoft.

Step

Select a blank cell below your data in column B. Click the Formula tab and then click the small Arrow beside the AutoSum button. Select Average from the drop-down menu. Highlight the cells containing the data and press Enter.

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Calculate the standard deviation.
credit: Screenshot courtesy of Microsoft.

Step

Select the blank cell beneath the cell used to calculate the data average. In our example, this is cell B16. Click the small Arrow beside the AutoSum button again. This time select More Functions. Click STDEV in the window that opens, highlight the cells containing the data and press Enter.

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Copy the average to the top of a new column.
credit: Screenshot courtesy of Microsoft.

Step

Type Average in cell C1 and then click cell C2. Type = and then click the cell containing the average. Insert a $ between the column letter and row number and then press Enter. In our example, the formula is =B$15.

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Paste the average into column C.
credit: Screenshot courtesy of Microsoft.

Step

Select cell C2 and press Ctrl-C to copy it. Drag the cursor over the blank cells in column C that have a value beside them and then press Ctrl-V to fils each cell with the average. When you plot the control chart, having these cells filled with the same number gives you a straight average line.

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Calculate the Upper Control Limit, or UCL.
credit: Screenshot courtesy of Microsoft.

Step

Type UCL in cell D1 to specify the Upper Control Limit. The UCL is calculated by adding the average to 3 times the standard deviation. Type the following formula into this cell, replacing "B15" and "B16" with cells containing your average and your standard deviation: =B15 + (B16*3)

Step

Insert a $ between the cell and row for each cell and then press Enter. Your final formula in this cell should look like this: =B$15 + (B$16*3)

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Calculate the Lower Control Limit, or LCL.
credit: Screenshot courtesy of Microsoft.

Step

Type LCL in cell E1 for the Lower Control Limit. The LCL subtracts 3 times the standard deviation from the average: =B15 - (B16*3)

Step

Insert a $ between the cell and row for each cell and press Enter. The final formula in this cell looks like this: =B$15 - (B$16*3)

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Highlight the cells containing the Average, UCL and LCL data.
credit: Screenshot courtesy of Microsoft.

Step

Copy the cells containing the UCL and LCL values and paste them into the cells below them. This will give you straight lines for both the UCL and LCL values in the control chart.

Step

Highlight the cells containing the Average, UCL and LCL data.

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Create a line chart from the highlighted data.
credit: Screenshot courtesy of Microsoft.

Step

Click the Insert tab and click the Line Chart icon. From the drop-down menu, select the first line chart that appears.

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Change the chart title to Control Chart.
credit: Screenshot courtesy of Microsoft.

Step

Click the Chart Title at the top of the line chart and replace it with Control Chart. If you want to change the appearance of your chart, click the Style icon beside the chart and select a new style.