Gauge Charts: The Ultimate Guide

Ever found yourself in a maze of data, feeling like you’re circling round and round, seeking a beacon of clarity? Take a breath.

Gauge charts are your lighthouse. Here’s the deal: information is power, yet raw data can be an indigestible beast. Wrestling it into submission requires the right tools—an alchemy blending analytics, design, and intuitiveness. That’s where these handy dials come to play.

You’re about to embark on a journey. You’ll harness the prowess of data visualization tools to transform jumbled numbers into coherent narratives. This isn’t your typical yawn-inducing data talk.

Prepare to dive deep into dashboard design, touch the essence of KPIs, and get acquainted with real-time analytics, all hand in hand with our trusty companion—the innocuous gauge chart.

Table of Contents

  • What Is A Gauge Chart?
  • Gauge Chart Example
  • When To Use A Gauge Chart
  • How To Read A Gauge Chart
  • Types Of Gauge Charts
  • How To Make A Gauge Chart In WordPress
  • How To Make A Gauge Chart In Excel
  • How To Make A Gauge Chart In Google Sheets

What Is A Gauge Chart?

A gauge chart is a visual tool used to display single-value metrics effectively. It resembles a car’s dashboard gauge, employing a needle or similar indicator to show where a measurement lands within a predefined range, making it ideal for illustrating performance, like progress toward a target or goal.

Gauge Chart Example

Chart created with wpDataTables

When To Use A Gauge Chart

When simplicity hits the sweet spot, that’s gauge chart territory. Picture this:

  • Aiming to spotlight a crucial stat? Check.
  • Need to showcase progress towards a goal? Absolutely.
  • Dashboard flavor of the month? You bet.

Imagine a scenario: a single value that needs shouting from the rooftops—profit margins, customer satisfaction, the classic sales targets. Steer clear if you’re juggling a heap of numbers or tracking trends over eons. But for that singular, stand-out metric, gauge it up—front and center. Make that needle point straight to what matters.

How To Read A Gauge Chart

Image source: phData

So, you’ve locked eyes with a gauge chart. Now what? Chill. It’s straightforward.

  • Zero in on that needle or dial.
  • It’s your compass—north, south, east, west of your data world.
  • The backdrop’s got numbers, right? Ranges, typically.
  • Where that needle’s pointing? That’s the tale of the tape. Your current stat’s home turf.

Now, most have colors coded like traffic lights. Green usually screams “all good,” while red? Well, no prizes for guessing—that’s your signal to buckle up and take action. Read it in a snap. No need to squint over lines or bars. Gauge charts—get the picture fast, move even faster.

Types Of Gauge Charts

Let’s slice through the gauge chart pie; it’s not just one flavor.

  • Solid Gauge: Compact, modern, a minimalist’s best friend.
  • Speedometer: Classic. Feels like you’re checking your car’s dashboard.
  • Donut Gauge: A sleek twist—think of a speedometer sans the center.
  • Linear Gauge: Breaks the mold, stretches out like a horizon. Different, right?

Each one has its stage where it shines. Dials for dynamic impact. Donuts for a dash of contemporary. And that linear type? Perfect when vertical or horizontal space is the canvas. Pick your poison; let that data sing.

How To Make A Gauge Chart In WordPress

Here’s the approach that could be applied to creating a gauge chart with wpDataTables:

  1. Open the Chart Creation Wizard:
    • Navigate to your WordPress admin panel, go to wpDataTables -> Create a Chart.
    • Assign a name to your chart for easy identification and select a rendering engine (Google Charts, Highcharts, Chart.js, or ApexCharts might be available options, depending on the plugin’s updates).
  2. Define the Data Source:
    • Choose the table that will serve as the data source for your new chart. This is typically done through a simple selection box within the wizard.
  3. Set the Data Range:
    • Specify which parts of your data table you want to include in the chart. This involves selecting the columns (and possibly rows) that contain the data points you wish to visualize in your gauge chart.
  4. Formatting and Preview:
    • Customize the appearance and settings of your chart. While gauge charts might have specific options, you generally have the ability to adjust aspects like chart titles, colors, and possibly the range of values displayed on the gauge.
    • Use the live preview feature to review the chart’s appearance. If it’s not exactly as you want, you can go back and adjust the settings as needed.
  5. Finalize and Insert the Chart:
    • Once you’re satisfied with the chart, save your work. The plugin will generate a shortcode for your new gauge chart.
    • Use this shortcode to insert the gauge chart into your WordPress posts or pages.

How To Make A Gauge Chart In Excel

To create a gauge chart in Excel, which combines a Doughnut chart and a Pie chart into a single visualization, follow these steps:

  1. Prepare Your Data:
    • Set up your data in a way that supports the creation of a gauge chart. Typically, this involves arranging your data points in two series: one for the Doughnut chart and one for the Pie chart.
  2. Select Data Range:
    • Select the range of data that you will use for the gauge chart. For example, select the range H2:I6.
  3. Insert Custom Combo Chart:
    • Go to the Insert tab, click on the Combo chart symbol in the Charts group, and then select Create Custom Combo Chart.
  4. Configure Chart Types:
    • In the Insert Chart dialog box, set the chart type for the Doughnut series to Doughnut and for the Pie series to Pie.
    • Plot the Pie series on the secondary axis.
  5. Customize the Chart:
    • Remove the chart title and legend for clarity.
    • Select the Pie series, go to the Format tab, and use the Format Selection option to change the angle of the first slice to 270 degrees.
    • Adjust the fill color of each point in the Pie series to create the gauge needle effect: make one point black (the needle) and the others transparent.
    • Repeat the customization for the Doughnut series, assigning different colors to each segment (e.g., red, yellow, green) and making one segment transparent to create the gauge look.
  6. Adjust Chart Area:
    • Select the chart area, and in the Shape Styles group on the Format tab, set the Shape Fill to No Fill and the Shape Outline to No Outline.
  7. Use a Spin Button (Optional):
    • If you want to make the gauge interactive, you can use a Spin Button to adjust the value dynamically. This involves changing a cell value (e.g., cell I3) that influences the gauge’s needle position.

How To Make A Gauge Chart In Google Sheets

To create a gauge chart in Google Sheets, follow these steps:

  1. Enter the Data:
    • Start by entering your data into Google Sheets. For example, you might enter metrics for a football team in two columns: one for the metric names (e.g., Offense, Defense, Special Teams) and one for their corresponding values.
  2. Create the Gauge Chart:
    • Highlight the cell range containing the metric you want to create a gauge chart for (e.g., A2:B2 for the Offense metric).
    • Click on the Insert tab along the top ribbon, then select Chart.
    • In the Chart editor panel that appears on the right side of the screen, click the dropdown menu for Chart type and select Gauge chart. A gauge chart will automatically be created based on your selected data.
  3. Modify the Gauge Chart:
    • To customize the gauge chart, such as changing its colors, click on the Customize tab within the Chart editor.
    • Click the dropdown arrow next to Gauge to access customization options, where you can specify colors for various maximum and minimum values on the gauge chart. The colors on the gauge chart will automatically update based on your selections.
  4. Create Multiple Gauge Charts (Optional):
    • If you want to create multiple gauge charts for different metrics, you can change the Data range in the Chart editor to include the additional metrics (e.g., change to A2:B4 to create a gauge chart for each metric listed in rows 2 through 4).

FAQ About Gauge Charts

Why use a gauge chart over other types of charts?

It’s about focus. When you want to zone in on a specific data point—like hitting a sales target—a gauge chart is like a spotlight on your star performer. It cuts the fluff and gets straight to the point, big and bold.

How do you read a gauge chart?

Think about checking your fuel gauge. Easy, right? There’s a needle that swings to show you how full or empty things are. Gauge charts use the same principle to show you where your data falls within a set range. Less reading, more seeing.

What limitations do gauge charts have?

Ah, the reality check. Gauge charts are aces for simplicity, but they’re not the jack-of-all-trades. They can misfire on the detail front for complex data sets. They’re also not great for showing changes over time—static snapshots only.

Can gauge charts display multiple data points?

Sure, they’ve evolved. Modern dashboard indicators can handle a few needles to compare different datasets. However, clutter is the enemy. Overdo it, and you’ll boggle the mind rather than enlighten it.

How customizable are gauge charts?

Oh, they’re like the chameleons of the data visualization tools. From the arc to the color scheme, down to the tick marks—tailor them to match your vibe. User Interface design here plays a crucial role in making sure they’re not just informative but also a visual treat.

Are gauge charts suitable for all industries?

You bet. Wherever performance needs checking—a factory floor, sales team, or even website analytics—these charts are in their element. Performance meters for every profession, no discrimination here.

What software can I use to create gauge charts?

Options abound. Microsoft Excel can kick things off, but there’s Google Charts, and numerous Business Intelligence platforms, like Tableau or Power BI, bring the bling with interactive gauge charts layered with nifty features.

What’s the future of gauge charts in data analytics?

Gauge charts are riding the wave of simplicity in a complex data world. As dashboards become sleeker and software smarter, these visual staples are getting more function-packed, yet their beauty lies in their undying elegance—simple at heart.

How do I ensure my gauge charts are effective?

Remember: less is more. Keep it clean, context-aware, and laser-focused on its purpose. It’s about striking that balance—visually captivating yet unambiguous. Aim for a design that nudges rather than confuses. That’s the recipe for a gauge chart that nails it.


Down the rabbit hole of gauge charts we plunged, and what a ride it’s been, huh?

As we pull back and gaze at the journey’s end, it’s clear that these dashboard darlings are more than mere shiny objects on your analytics tool belt. They’re pivotal—transforming bewildering numbers into coherent stories you can actually digest.

  • Seize this knowledge:
    • Dashboard design is not just aesthetics; it’s clarity incarnate.
    • KPIs leap off the screen, demanding action.
    • Wrangling real-time analytics? These charts are like your visual sherpa.

Did we delve into the quirks? Sure, no charade here. Gauge charts have their kryptonite—complex data jamborees and time-traveling tales fall outside their wheelhouse.

But the mission? It was never about perfection. It’s been about equipping you with a mighty tool—one slice of the data visualization pantheon to elevate your performance narratives.

Closing time. Go forth. Craft dashboards that speak volumes, that ignite decision-making. May your metrics always hit the mark.

Milan Jovanovic
Milan Jovanovic

Product Lead

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