How to Use Excel & Tornado Diagrams

By Kara Page

A tornado diagram is a type of bar chart in which the data is displayed with vertical bars, with the largest at the top and the smallest at the bottom, giving the appearance of a tornado. While Microsoft Excel does not offer a specific "tornado chart" in its selection of graphs and charts, creating one within Excel is simple. Before you begin, you should enter all of the data you want displayed in your tornado diagram into a spreadsheet.

Step 1

Open your spreadsheet and highlight the data you want to include in your tornado diagram. Go to "Insert" and select "Bar," then "Clustered Bar."

Step 2

Right-click on the horizontal axis and select "Format Axis." Select "Axis Value" under "Vertical Axis Crosses," then enter your base case value.

Step 3

Select the vertical axis for your diagram, then check next to "Categories in Reverse Order" and click "Low" on the "Axis Labels" menu.

Step 4

Click one of the bars to open a pane labeled "Series Options" and slide the button under "Series Overlap" over to the far right. Click "Finish."

Tips & Warnings

  • The add-in software "TM Tornado" allows you to easily create tornado diagrams within Microsoft Excel, and is available as both a self-installing version or a zip version (see Resources).