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Excel 2016 Chronicles – Vol. I

To say the least there is a little anxiety with learning, experiencing something new. To add another layer of complexity I am in time crunch.  Yes, I know a bit about Excel but unlocking this new version felt a little uneasy.  To start from the beginning, I upgraded to 2016 for a special project.  The executive team was looking for fancier charts to articulate company performance, something to capture the attention of key stakeholders.  I was limited to the charts available in 2010.  Eventually I was led to something called a sunburst chart.  A starburst chart is an advanced level pie chart showing subcomponents of a pie a circular pattern.  My first attempt was to fall back on a tried and true method of combining chart types to create something new and unique Excel 2010.  I started by creating a simple pie chart then adding a second donut chart on top.  I then made the background clear in order to view both charts at once.  The result…a quirky chart which just didn’t look right.

Sunburst Excel 2010

If you notice the alignment is all wrong, color scheme not eye catching enough.  In short not there yet.  After a little research I noticed this new visualization was easily accessible in 2016.  After some play here is a quick rundown on how to put it all together.


1. Setup your data up correctly.  The data must be setup in a tabular fashion, showing the different layers of the sunburst.  The first level is the core or center.  Additional levels show up in subsequent columns.

Sunburst Source Table

2. In the Ribbon Click Insert, then click Recommended Charts



3. Click on All Charts


4. Scroll down and click Sunburhst, Click Ok


5. The following chart appears as a result

Sunburst Final

In addition to this, here are a few best practices: Use white spaces or lines to accentuate the slices, share the document as a PDF or JPEG.  Most people do not have Excel 2016.  The chart received rave reviews from key stakeholders.  It was something new fresh, yet it did not sacrifice the message.

I’ll keep you informed on the new experiences I’m having with Excel 2016.  I hope they help you when you make the leap.

About the author



Othniel Denis is currently Principal of Excellent Ones Consulting LLC. He brings with him a background in finance, training, and information management systems. Prior to opening his own firm, Othniel spent the last 13 years in finance as an Analyst at organizations like New York University, Nassau County Government and Brookhaven National Laboratory to name a few...

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