How to Do a Bridge Chart

by Luther Blissett

Bridge charts are more commonly known as waterfall charts and are used to present a variety of different financial information including inventory, sales and accounting data. The charts are extremely helpful as they allow the impact of a large number of variables to all be seen simultaneously. Although a number of freeware software can create graphs, none have the ability to produce this particular type of graph. The chart's data can be presented Microsoft Excel spreadsheet program.

Launch Excel and click on the "File" menu. Select "New Workbook" to create a new workbook to store the data for the waterfall chart.

Enter the category labels in the first column of the workbook. Cell "A3" should be labeled "Initial," while cell "A9" should have the label "Final". The rest of the cells in the column should have data appropriate labels. Next, enter the series names for the data in the first row. Starting with cell "B1," label the first cells in the row "Invisible," "Final," "Minus," "Plus" and "Initial." To help Excel recognize that the first column and row contain labels, leave cell "A1" completely blank, and only place a single blank space in cell "A2". When the chart is completed, cells A1 through F10 will be used.

Enter the data for the chart into the appropriate spaces in the workbook. For instance, the initial chart value should be placed in cell "F3," which corresponds to the "Initial" label. The final chart value should be placed in cell "C9," which corresponds to the "Final" label. The data for the labels in cells A4 through A8 should be placed in the appropriate minus or plus column depending on whether their value is more or less than the initial value.

Copy the following formula into cell "B4": =SUM(B3,E3:F3)-D4.

Copy the following formula into cell "C9": =SUM(B8,E8:F8)-D9.

Select all of the data and select "Chart" from the "Insert" menu. Choose the option for a "Stacked column chart" from the "Chart" menu.

Double click on the part of the chart representing the "Invisible" data from column "B." Select the "Pattern" tab from the "Formatting" menu that appears. Select "None" for the "Border," and "Fill" options to make the data truly invisible.

Click on the "Invisible" entry on the chart's legend, and press the "delete" key.

Complete the graph by double clicking on any of the data columns displayed and selecting the "Options" tab from the formatting menu displayed. Set the "Gap Width" to "0" to eliminate space between the columns.

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About the Author

Luther Blissett has written for a variety of online publications, blogs and newspapers on topics ranging from technology to politics. He runs his own small business. Blissett holds a B.A. in history and a J.D.