Creating In-cell charts with markers for average (or target) values

Today, lets talk about an interesting extension to the idea of in-cell charts. Adding average or target markers to the chart.

Here is what we are going to create:

Incell charts with markers for average (or target etc.) in Excel

PS: this chart is inspired from an email from Brian Coetzee.

In-cell what? A quick re-cap

If you have never heard about in-cell charts, read this quick re-cap section.

In-cell charts are light weight charts generated to fit inside a single cell. Example in-cell charts are

  1. sparklines
  2. conditional formatting data bars
  3. bar charts generated with REPT formula.

First 2 options are very straight forward. It is (3) that is exciting because it opens up a lot of possibilities for us.  See below, an introduction to in-cell charts.

In-cell charts in Excel - an introduction

For more on in-cell charts, refer to resources section at the end of this article.

In-cell charts with markers – how to?

Adding a marker (like average or target or last year value) can enhance your charts greatly and provide more context. Lets understand how to add marker symbols to in-cell charts.

For simplicity sake, assume that,

  • A1 has data value
  • B1 has average value

Now, the marker can be in 2 places.

  • Inside the bar
  • Outside the bar

The basic formula for generating an in-cell bar with markers is,

=IF(A1<B1, REPT("|", A1) & REPT(" ", B1-A1) & ".", REPT("|", B1) & "." & REPT("|", A1-B1))

How does this formula work?

First we check if we should print the marker outside the bar or inside the bar with IF(A1<B1 portion.

Then, if we need to print the marker outside,

REPT("|", A1) & REPT(" ", B1-A1) & "."

  • Print | symbol A1 times
  • Print SPACE (B1-A1) times
  • Print the marker symbol


REPT("|", B1) & "." & REPT("|", A1-B1)

  • Print | symbol B1 times
  • Print marker
  • Print | symbol A1-B1 times

Download in-cell chart template

Click here to download example workbook. It contains in-cell charts with markers. Play with the formulas to learn more.

More resources & examples on in-cell charting

Don’t keep your cells empty and boring. Load them with impressive analysis & charts. Learn from below resources.

Do you make in-cell charts?

In-cell charts are one of my favorite charting techniques in Excel. I use them often in my reports or dashboards, when I want something quick & light-weight. They are easy to make & can look super awesome when you sprinkle a bit of conditional formatting on top.

What about you? Do you create in-cell charts? What are your favorite tips & techniques for working with them. Share your thoughts in comments.