DataViz Using Excel: Excel Charts Meet William Playfair (Jorge Camoes)


Jorge CamoesI featured work from Jorge Camoes before when he developed A Classification of Chart Types.

This is an older blog post by Jorge of how he used Excel to recreated a few of the famous charts developed by William Playfair. I love charts where people recreated their own versions of some of the original history data visualizations and I wanted to share this one from Jorge with you. I have noted at the end of the blog post where you can find Jorge’s post on his website.

Best regards,


Excel Charts Meet William Playfair

Jorge experimented with some data visualization historical milestones using Excel. He points out that trying to recreate these historic charts in Excel is a great way to improve your Excel skills and pay a humble tribute to the data visualization founding fathers (their charts always look better).

The challenge is to recreate the original chart without cheating: a single chart (no overlapping charts), no shapes/clipart to display data and, obviously, no Photoshop.

Here is Jorge’s rendition of William Playfair’s prices of wheat and weekly wages:

William Playfair wheat prices Excel version

There were some details of the chart that Jorge wanted to improve (e.g., fonts, custom number formats), but it came out closer than he expected. Excel doesn’t like areas in front of columns, and that was the major challenge. If you want to compare to the original, here it is:

William Playfair Wheat Prices

Playfair’s wheat prices chart was Jorge’s second chart to recreate. he started with a simpler one, England exports:

William Playfair exports from England Excel version

And here is the original:

William Playfair Exports

Jorge’s words of advise: Don’t make your Excel charts look like Excel charts (and don’t make your Excel dashboards look like Excel dashboards). You have a fair amount of latitude to come.

Jorge said that he wants to one day tackle Minard’s Map. I have been promising to do so using MicroStrategy for many years. Perhaps Jorge and I can both make an attempt and compare notes.


Source: Jorge Camoes, Chart Redesign,, December 6, 2011,

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