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Posts: 2
Reply with quote  #1 

We are currently facing a bit of a challenge in presenting the instant visualization of the Operating Expense component of finance numbers for a service company. While trend lines lend themselves well to positive slopes = good, this is not the case for data like Operating Expense or other factors where positive slopes = bad. While the 'Gas Gauge' may be one way to express this, we prefer to shy away from those. Has someone come up with a good way to visualize this on a finance dashboard intermixed with other metrics where positive = good?



Posts: 32
Reply with quote  #2 


I see your point of upward slopes being positive or negative, depending on the displayed parameter.  However, as the number of dashboard charts are usually not that many and there is a lot of repeat, this shouldn't be much of a factor. 

Anyway, I haven't come across myself, but with a bit creative thinking I believe there are more ways to visualize positive vs negative.  Because I don't know the context, nor what software you'r using, here are just a few triggers:-

  • You could display a pos/neg symbol in the corner of the chart (say an arrow pointing down or up)
  • You can us a different chart frame colour (red = neg; green = pos) - e.g., with conditional formatting in Excel (or any other attribute for that matter: line colour, line width, ..)
  • You could think of showing the budget/target as a grey area and with costs (that shd slope downwards) you can show the grey area at the upper side of the chart - "in grey" then consistently means "bad news".
  • Yet another option is to place the charts with similar characteristics in a separate part of the screen, logically grouped (the charts can have a different colour setting as to strengthen the difference).
  • Reverse the value axis (i.e., show the lowest values at the top)

You could possibly find many other ones.  If you use Excel I can help you further, e.g., this may be a good opportunity to try out my Trendicator Graph (see another post here) - but that requires some space and I don't know whether this is available.

Hope this helps,

Good luck,


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