I'm creating a spreadsheet for project planning and have a column that lists estimated effort as follows:

  • Unknown
  • Very High
  • High
  • Medium
  • Low
  • Very Low
  • None

I like the visual cues provided by data bars in Excel, and would like to use them to show relative effort for the "Very High" to "None" values. However I can't figure out how to do this. I thought about adding a numeric value to each value - e.g. "5 - Very High" - but I'm now stuck trying to apply the data bar criteria to a substring of the cell contents.

Is there a way to do this, or an alternate approach that would achieve the same results?

  • Does it have to be data bars or can you use color scale? – Raystafarian Oct 21 '14 at 14:25
  • I know I can change color, but prefer not to have a wide range of colors on the spreadsheet - I think it would look distracting as I have multiple effort columns. – Roger Oct 21 '14 at 14:27
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I tried to do this yesterday - I don't believe you can achieve this with conditional formatting data bars, which can only apply to cells containing numerical values.

The way I got round it was to overlay a bar chart, removing all the backgrounds, borders, axes and gridlines, and setting the bar colour to be 60%+ transparent.

enter image description here

  • I was afraid of this. Thanks for confirming. – Roger Oct 22 '14 at 0:44

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