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Create Excel Cluster Stack Charts

A cluster stack chart has clusters of columns or bars, with a stack in each column or bar. See how to set up your Excel data to create a cluster stack column chart or a cluster stack bar chart. Or use a pivot table and pivot chart, for a quick and easy solution.

Also see Marimekko Charts

What Is a Clustered Stacked Chart?

A Clustered Stacked chart is a combination of a Stacked Column or Bar chart, and a Clustered Column or Bar chart. Excel does not have a built-in Clustered Stacked Column or Bar chart type, but this tutorial different ways to create one.

Follow the steps below, to create a cluster stack chart, similar to this one. This chart has:

  • a Cluster of columns for each region (East, West, North, South)
  • a Stack in each column, with a different coloured segment for each season in the year

There are written steps, and there is also a step-by-step video below.

cluster stack column chart for seasonal sales per region

Video: Cluster Stack Column Chart

This short video shows how to set up your Excel data, by adding blank rows to space the region and year data, and putting the annual data on different rows.

Then, build the cluster stack chart, and make a couple of quick formatting changes, to end up with an attractive, and easy-to-understand clustered stacked chart.

The video transcript is below the video.

Video Timeline

  • 00:00 Introduction
  • 00:19 Cluster Stack Chart
  • 00:40 Data Layout
  • 01:52 Make the Chart
  • 02:32 Format Chart
  • 02:58 Change Colours

Video Transcript

If you'd like to read the video transcript, click on the green check box below. When you're finished, you can click the check box again, to hide the transcript

Video Transcript: Clustered Stacked Column Chart

Here is the full transcript for the Clustered Stacked Column Chart video.

In this workbook, I have: sales data for two years, for four different regions, broken down by season.

I'd like to create a chart like this one, that shows each of the regions, with a stack for each year and the seasons broken down within each stack. This is Debra Dalgleish from Contextures.com.

Cluster Stack Chart

This chart that I want to create is like a combination of a cluster column chart, and a stack column chart.
So we've got clusters for the regions and stacks for the years.

There's nothing built into Excel that will do that so I'm going to copy my data to a blank sheet, then change the way it's arranged.

Data Layout

To start I'll copy the columns with data (I want to leave the original data unchanged)

Copy that, go to a blank sheet and paste it.

To get the data ready for the chart, I'm going to add some blank rows. I want a blank row before the first region and then a blank row after each region.

A quick way to rearrange my data is to:

  • put some numbers down column A.
  • I've got four regions and I need three rows for each region,
  • so I'll select and copy this,
  • then paste it twice.
  • I want a blank row at the very top, so I'll type a zero here.
  • I'm going to select those numbers and all the data that I have,
  • and then sort those A to Z, so data A to Z.

Now there's my blank at the top, and each region has its data in one row and then two blank rows after that.

All I have to do now is select the second year of data and drag it down one row.

So, we've got blanks, two rows of data, another blank, and this is how we need it to create our cluster stack column chart.

Make the Chart

I'm going to:

  • select starting in cell B2 above the region headings here;
  • select all the headings and down to the last row that I've got numbered there,
    • so I want to include that blank after South,

And then I'm going to insert my chart.

  • Go to the Insert tab
  • and I want a column chart, a stacked one.
  • Click that, and there's the chart.

Because we've got these blank rows, we've got East has its first year of data and then its second year, and then there's a blank where the third row is empty, and the same for each of the other regions.

Format Chart

Now to make these look more clustered, I'll do a little formatting.

  • Click one of the segments
  • and on the Format tab, Format Selection,
  • and I want a gap of some little number, so I'll put 20 here

and now it's looking more clustered.

There's a bigger space between the regions than there is between the stacks for each region.

Change Colours

The final thing you could do to make this look nicer, is to match up the colours.

Right now, winter for both years is blue, but you could make this a different shade of orange.

  • So if I go to Format
  • and choose a lighter orange here
  • and do the same for the grey
  • and for the yellow

And now you have a cluster stack chart and you can compare year to year totals for each region.

Clustered Stacked Chart In Excel

In Excel, you can create a Stacked Column chart, or a Clustered Column chart, using the built-in chart types.

Excel does not have a built-in Clustered Stacked Column chart type, but this tutorial shows 3 different methods that you can use to create an Excel cluster stack chart.

  • A) Data in a Summary Grid - Rearrange the Excel data, then make a chart
  • B) Data in Detail Rows - Make a Pivot Table & Pivot Chart
  • C) Data in a Summary Grid - Save Time with Excel Add-In

Clustered Stacked Chart Example

In the examples shown below, there are

  • 2 years of data
  • 4 seasons of sales amounts each year
  • 4 different regions

With each method, the goal is to create a cluster stack chart, similar to one shown below.

  • The chart has a Cluster for each region, with 2 columns in each cluster - one for each year of data
  • There is a Stack in each column, with a segment for each season in that year

cluster stack column chart for seasonal sales per region

A) Data in Summary Grid - Rearrange Data

If your data is summarized in a grid, like the one shown below, you can rearrange the data slightly, and then you'll be able to create a cluster stack chart.

The table has 2 years of data for seasonal sales per region, with the seasons in different columns.

data for seasonal sales per region

Build a Cluster Stack Chart

The instructions below will show you how to create the chart from this type of data:

1) First, you'll see the limitations of using Excel's built-in chart types.

2) Next, you'll see the easy steps to rearrange your data slightly, before building the cluster stack chart.

NOTE: There are written steps, and there is also a step-by-step video below.

Excel's Built-In Chart Types

Excel does not have a built-in cluster stack chart type. The two built-in Excel chart types that come closest are:

  • Clustered Column chart
  • Stacked Column chart

Neither of those chart types do exactly what you need, as you can see in the two examples shown below.

Clustered Column chart

Here is a clustered column chart, built from the regional sales data that is shown in the previous section. In this chart:

  • The sales data is grouped by region -- there is a cluster of columns for each region
  • Each season, per region, is in a separate column - the legend at the right helps you find each year/season combination for each region
  • You can't compare year totals per region -- only the year/season amounts are shown

clustered column chart

Stacked Column chart

Next, here is a stacked column chart, built from the same regional sales data. In this chart:

  • The sales data is grouped by region -- there is a single stacked column for each region, along the Category (horizontal) axis
  • All year/season amounts, per region, are in a single column - the legend at the right helps you find each year/season combination for each region
  • You can't compare year totals per region -- only overall 2-year total is shown

stacked column chart

How to Make a Cluster Stack Chart

Instead of using one of those built-in chart types, follow the steps below, to create a Cluster Stack chart.

To create a Clustered Stacked chart in Excel, there are 2 main steps, described in detail below:

  1. Make changes to the data layout
  2. Create a chart from the revised data
    • a) Cluster Stack Column Chart
    • b) Cluster Stack Bar Chart

1) Change the Data Layout

Whether you want to make a cluster stack column chart or a cluster stack bar chart, follow these steps to change the data layout.

Original Data Layout

Here is the original data layout for the sample data, arranged in a summary grid. The table shows 2 years of data for seasonal sales per region.

  • Year and season names are in columns, across the top
  • Region names are in rows, down the left side
  • Sales amounts are in the grid, for each region, for each year/season

data original layout

Make Data Layout Changes

Make the following small changes to the data:

NOTE: The video below shows a quick way to make those changes, by dragging the data with your mouse.

  1. Add a blank row after the heading row, to act as a spacer
  2. Add 2 blank rows after each region's data
  3. Move the second year's data down one row.
  4. Insert blank rows where you want columns separated
  5. Add a blank row at the end of the data

Revised Data Layout

Here is the revised data layout, for the clustered stacked Excel chart. The second year's data has been shifted down one row, and blank rows were inserted.

revised data layout different rows

In the revised data layout shown above:

  1. For each region
    • First year's data (red border) is in one row
    • Second year's data (blue border) was moved down to the row below
  2. Blank row was inserted after each region
  3. Spacer rows above the first region, and after the last region
    • orange cells have this formula, to create an empty string: =""
    • zero values aren't required - just a reminder not to delete spacer rows

2a) Create a Clustered Stacked Column Chart

Here are the steps to create a clustered stacked column chart from the revised data:

  • Select the headings, data and blank cells in the data range.
    • In the sample data, select the cells within the thick outline border, in screen shot above (cells B2:J15)
  • Click the Insert tab, at the top of Excel, and click the Insert Column or Bar Chart command
  • In the 2-D Column section, click Stacked Column
    • OR, in the 2-D Bar section, click Stacked Bar

cluster stack column chart

Change the Gap Width

At first, the chart's columns are narrow, and spread apart. To make the chart look better, make the following changes to the gap width setting.

  • Right-click on one of the columns, and click Format Data Series
  • The Format Data Series pane opens, usually at the right side of the Excel window
  • There are 3 icons at the top
    • Fill & Line (paint bucket)
    • Effects (hexagon shape)
    • Series Options (column chart)
  • Click the Series Options icon, if it is not already highlighted
  • In the Series Options section, click the triangle, if necessary, to see all the settings
  • Change the Gap Width setting to a low number - between 0% and 10%

change gap width setting

After you reduce the Gap Width setting, the columns are wider, and closer together

chart after gap width setting change

Change the Chart Colours

At first, each season/year combination has a different colour. To make the seasons easier to compare, year to year. you can change the chart colours, for the second year's stacked column

Make the second year's colours a lighter shade of the first year's colours, for each season. For example:

  • Click the Winter segment, in one of the second year stacked columns,
  • At the top of Excel, click the Format tab, at the far right
  • Click the arrow for Shape Fill
  • Select a fill colour that's a lighter shade of the first year' colour for that season

Then, repeat those steps to colour the remaining seasons for the second year.

chart after gap width setting change

Completed Cluster Stack Column Chart with Format Changes

When it is finished, the Clustered Stacked Column chart should look similar to the chart below.

For each region:

  • First year's data is in the left column
  • Second year's data is in the right column
  • Seasonal colours are similar, to make comparisons easier

cluster stack column chart

2b) Create a Clustered Stacked Bar Chart

If you chose the Stacked Bar chart type, the Clustered Stacked Bar chart should look like the one in the screenshot below.

For each region:

  • 2020 data is in the top bar
  • 2021 data is in the bottom bar

cluster stack chart for seasonal sales per region

Example 2: Compare Win/Loss Scores

Here's another example of a Cluster Stack chart, based on data in a summary grid.

This chart compares the highest and lowest win/loss scores for a fantasy football league, for each week in the season. There 3 weeks of data so far.

win/lose data compared in cluster stack chart

Original Data Layout

Originally, the win/loss data had one column per week, with four rows:

  1. Win Low
  2. Win High
  3. Lose Low
  4. Lose High

win/lose data per week

Revised Data Layout

To create a cluster stack chart, the following changes were made to the data:

  • blank rows and blankcolumns were added
  • win and loss data were put in separate columns for each week

win/lose data with blank rows

Calculations Added

Next, a new section was added to the worksheet. In this section:

  • formulas calculate the differences between high and low scores
    • For example, this formula is in cell D20: =D8-D7
  • yellow cells are used as source data for the cluster stack chart

source data for chart

Cluster Stack Chart for Win/Loss

Here is the chart that was created from the new formula section of Win/Loss fantasy football data layout.

  • There is a cluster for each week, with 2 columns in each cluster - Win and Loss
  • Each column is stacked, with a segment for high (red), and a segment for low (grey)

win/lose data compared in cluster stack chart

B) Data in Detail Rows - Pivot Chart

If your data is in details rows, instead of a summary grid, there is a quick and easy way to make a cluster stack chart. First, make a pivot table, and then make a pivot chart based on that pivot table.

An overview of this method is shown below, and that might be all the help you need for this method. If you'd like to see the detailed steps for creating the pivot table and pivot chart, you can go to the Cluster Stack Pivot Chart page.

NOTE: This type of cluster stack chart has equal space between all the columns. The "cluster" effect is created by the labels and lines below the horizontal axis

Data in Detail Rows

To use this pivot chart method, your data must be in details rows. This screen shot shows a named Excel table, with sales data for 2 years, for 4 different regions.

Each column has one type of information - Region, Year, Season, Sales and Season Number (Ssn)

sales data in Excel table

Make a Pivot Table

First, create a new blank pivot table, based on the table with data in detail rows.

Next, add fields to the pivot table layout, based on the cluster stack chart that you want:

  • Rows: Add fields for chart's horizontal axis -- Region and Year in this example
  • Columns: Add fields for the "stack" -- Season number (Ssn) in this example
  • Values: Add number field - Sales in this example

pivot table for pivot chart

Make Pivot Chart

Next, create a stacked column chart based on the pivot table.

  • Tip: To make the columns wider, change the gap width to a low percentage, such as 20%

Here is the pivot chart, with a "cluster" for each Region, and a stack for each Year, showing a breakdown by season.

pivot chart cluster stack

C) Save Time with Excel Add-in

If you frequently need to make this type of clustered stacked chart, or other custom Excel charts, you can save time by using an Excel add-in.

Go to the Peltier Tech website (affiliate link), and check out Jon Peltier's Excel charting utility.

Jon's charting utility can help you create complex Excel charts, quickly and easily - much faster than building the charts yourself, from scratch.

Get the Sample Files

  • Region Data: To see the original data layout, and the rearranged data, with the cluster stack chart, get the Cluster Stack Chart sample file. The zipped workbook is in xlsx format, and does not contain any macros.
  • Win/Loss Data: To see how the win/loss chart data is set up, and view the completed chart, you can get the Win and Loss Chart sample file. The zipped file is in xlsx format, and does not contain macros.
  • Pivot Chart Cluster Stack: See sales data in 2 different cluster stack layouts, using pivot tables and pivot charts. The zipped workbook is in xlsx format, and does not contain any macros.

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Last updated: February 18, 2024 1:38 PM