Using Excel to build a simple dashboard

Excel charts are great visual tools to show changes in data. You can build dynamic charts in Excel with a few easy steps. Below is an example of a table which can be used to build an interactive chart.

Basic data

The Quantity column’s values are simply entered into the cells, but the Revenue figures are the result of the formula =B2*C2, which is copied down the column. The Selling Price is generated by multiplying the Base Price (see below) with the Price Change showing in the drop-down list in H2 (also shown below, but more about the drop-down list later). The formula is: =F2+F2*$H$2. The $ symbols in the formula are used to lock the percentage in the formula when you copy it down, because it is only in the one cell.

Base & dropdown

Select cell H2. To create the drop-down list, you need to have a normal list entered into some cells beforehand, as shown below. The drop-down is created by clicking the Data tab, then clicking Data Validation. In the box, select List from the Allow drop-down. Next, click inside the Source field, then select the list of figures in the cells (J2:J8 in this example). Now you have a drop-down list in cell H2.


As shown earlier, the figure shown in the drop-down cell (H2) is linked into the formula calculating the Selling Price. You can now change the Selling Price using the drop-down. And because the Selling Price is linked to the Revenue by a formula, these numbers also change!

The final step is inserting a chart which shows the Regions and their Revenues. To do this, first select the regions (including the label). Then hold down the Ctrl button and also select the revenue figures, again including the label.

Select columns

Now click the Insert tab, then click the Clustered Column option. This will insert a clustered column chart into your spreadsheet.


Move the chart to a suitable spot in your sheet, then test the drop-down list. See the magic happen as the chart changes when you select different values in the drop-down list!


Excel course is one of our Microsoft Office 365 training courses.

10 Tips For Simpler, Faster Email Management 

We all wish we could do more with the time we had, but our inbox tends to get in the way of the productivity boost we’re craving. Here, we’re going to take a look at 10 effective email management tips that can help you save time, get productive, and even get a step closer to the dream of ‘Inbox Zero’. 

Tip 1: Use To-Do Folders 

Be more efficient with email folders
Use a to-do folder to organise non-urgent emails

With tools like Outlook and Gmail, it’s easy to create folders that can be used to archive emails, so create a “To-Do” folder for those non-crucial, non-urgent emails that you can get around to when you have the time. 

For more info on how to efficiently use the To-Do lists, check out our organisational skills course.

Tip 2: Save your most common replies 

Outlook provides a tool called Quick Parts (and other email services have their own versions) that allows you to save a frequently-used reply or passage of text instead of having to type it out again and again. 

Tip 3: Take a shortcut 

Quick Steps is another function that allows you to set keyboard shortcuts. Besides marking as read and deleting files, you can also use keyboard shortcuts to quickly send them to a folder of your choosing. 

Tip 4: Make time for it 

One of the most time-consuming habits is continually checking your emails throughout the day. Instead, set a single time-slot to get all your inbox management out of the way at once. 

Tip 5: Organise them automatically 

By creating rules in Outlook, you can filter emails by sender, subject, and email domain so that you can quickly sort more emails into categories, so you don’t end up going through them one at a time.  This and more is covered in our Microsoft Outlook time management training courses.

Tip 6: Clean up in one click 

The Clean Up tool is great for getting rid of unnecessary or redundant emails by deleting any messages that have been entirely quoted or copied in other emails in your inbox. 

Use the Outlook Clean Up tool to organise folders
Save time by cleaning up your folders

Tip 7: Resend your messages 

If you need to draft an email that’s roughly the same as another and you don’t have the right Quick Parts for it, simply start by re-sending an existing email from the “Sent” category and type in the adjustments you need to make. 

Tip 8: Keep your folders small 

Your different email folders are supposed to make it much easier to find specific emails. If they get bloated with too many messages, they no longer have that benefit, so separate folders into subcategories when they start to get too big. 

Tip 9: Sort time-sensitive emails 

Some emails demand an immediate response, while others can wait. For the others, file them by when you need to respond to them with folders like “Reply by Thursday”, so you don’t have to worry about them until they’re relevant. 

Tip 10: Just say no 

If you get annoyed by seeing irrelevant emails, use a shortcut to quickly place them in an “Irrelevant” folder. Once a month, check the irrelevant folder and unsubscribe or filter out the emails you no longer want to receive. 

By being more mindful of when and why you go through the email inbox, setting up automated inbox management, and creating an accessible filing system, you can more quickly get through your emails, which can give you a lot more time to spend on the work that really matters. If you’d like to learn how to confidently use not only Outlook but also Excel and Word, check out our Microsoft Office 365 training courses.

With more effective email management comes better time management. Learn more here:

Improve efficiency using these time management tips
Time Management Mistakes and Tips