How to Create a Thermometer Chart

A thermometer graph is a graph of progress toward a particular goal. For example, it might be progress toward a certain fundraising goal for a charity. One characteristic of these graphs is that they are regularly updated, so the software must allow for that. Although the amount of information on a thermometer graph is relatively slight, they can offer visual incentive to further progress.

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Enter headers. In Excel, in two cells in one row (usually cells A1 and B1) enter names for the columns. For example, if you were running a 12-month charity drive, the two headers might be "Month" and "Amount."

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Decide how many rows you need. In our example, we would need 12 rows for the 12 months.

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Enter the first column's data. In our example, we could enter "January" in cell A2, "February" in cell A3 and so on.

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Enter the second column's data where you have it. If you are making the chart at the beginning of the project you may have no data in this column. But if, for example, we raised $2,000 in January, $1,200 in February and $1,500 in March, we could enter those numbers in cells B2, B3 and B4.

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Enter the goal. In a row under those with any data, enter "Goal" in the first column and a number in the second column. In our example, we could enter "Goal" in cell A14 and $20,000 in cell B14.

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Calculate total. In a cell below the last cell entered in the second column, enter a sum formula using =sum(cell1:cell2), where cell1 and cell2 are the first and last cells in that column that have data. In our example, we would enter =sum(B2:B13) in cell B15.

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Calculate proportion. Skip one cell and, in the next cell below the one just entered, find the proportion that the sum is of the goal. In our example, we would enter =B15/B14 in cell B17.

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Create the chart. Highlight the cell you just entered, then click "Insert," then "Chart," then "Column," then "2-D column," then the graph in the upper left.

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Adjust the chart. In the layout menu, under axes, click "More options," then enter 1 for the maximum. Click on the title in the chart itself and enter what you want (for example, "Progress"). Delete the little box on the right that says "Proportion."

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Add more data. When you get more data, enter it in the appropriate row and the chart will update automatically.