How To Use a Waterfall Chart

How To Use a Waterfall Chart

How To Use a Waterfall Chart

There’s no question that understanding financial data is important for businesses of all sizes. Financial data can provide insights into a company’s overall financial health, performance, and prospects. This information is essential for making informed business decisions.

There are a variety of tools that can help you make sense of your financial data, including waterfall charts. Keep reading to learn more about waterfall charts, including how to use a waterfall chart.

 What is a waterfall chart?

The waterfall chart gets its name from the way waterfalls cascade down the page. The waterfall chart can help explain how a company’s cash flow works or track the progress of a project.

 How do you use a waterfall chart?

There are a variety of ways businesses can use waterfall charts to help visualize their operations and track their progress. One popular method is to use a staggered layout with different colors representing different stages of the process. Another option is to use an inverted waterfall chart, which can help highlight negative values.

Use in Business

Businesses can also use waterfall charts to analyze their budget and track their spending. This can help business owners see where they are over-or underspending and where they can make adjustments. By experimenting with different layouts and colors, businesses can find the best way to visualize their data and track their progress.

 How do you create a waterfall chart?

The bars start at the bottom and increase in height as they move to the right. The difference between the bar at the top and the bar at the bottom represents the cumulative effect of all of the changes.

To create a waterfall chart in Excel, you will need to have three series of data: one for the positive values, one for the negative values, and one for the cumulative total. To create the positive and negative data series, you will need to create two columns in your spreadsheet. The first column will contain the positive values, and the second column will contain the negative values.

Once you have created these three columns, you can create your waterfall chart. Select the data in the positive and negative data series columns and then click the Insert tab and select the Line Chart icon. In the Line Chart options dialog box, select the waterfall chart type and then click OK. Excel will generate a waterfall chart based on your data.

Things to keep in Mind

There are a few things to keep in mind when creating a waterfall chart. First, determine the starting value for your chart. This is the value that will be at the bottom of the first bar. Then, determine the value for each change. The initial value should be at the top of the chart, and the final value should be at the bottom. Values should be positive (e.g., inflows) or negative (e.g., outflows) but should never be zero.

Next, figure out the type of change, whether it’s increasing, decreasing, or not changing at all. Then, create the series of bars that represent the starting value, the changes, and the cumulative effect. Add labels to the chart that indicate the type of change and the value of the change. Finally, format the chart by adjusting the colors, fonts, and widths of the bars to make the chart easier to read. The chart should be as symmetrical as possible.

 What are the challenges of waterfall charts?

The biggest challenge with waterfall charts is that they can be difficult to read and understand. The key to understanding a waterfall chart is being able to identify the various segments and how they are related.

Waterfall charts are often used to visualize financial data, such as income statements and balance sheet data, but some alternatives may be used as well if the waterfall chart presents too many challenges or does not adequately display the data. One alternative is the cascade chart. A cascade chart is a way to show how different values contribute to a total, displaying intermediate sums throughout the chart.


For example, you might use a cascade chart to show how revenue and expenses contribute to a profit or loss, or you could use it to show how different products contribute to a total sales figure. A cascade chart can be a great way to see the big picture and to understand how different parts of a system work together. If you need to present a lot of data, a cascade chart may be a better option than a waterfall chart.

Another alternative is the column chart. For example, you could use a column chart to compare the sales totals for different products over some time.

Ultimately, understanding your company’s financial data is essential for making sound business decisions and being better with competitors, and a waterfall chart can be a valuable tool in your analysis.

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