Waterfall charts

Modified on Thu, 22 Sep, 2022 at 5:10 PM

Waterfall charts, also known as bridge chart, are one of the most popular charts in finance. They very successfully illustrate how multiple positive or negative items add up to a total.


About Waterfall charts

Waterfall charts ideal to represent how a total can be broken down into multiple items that are being added or substracted. 

In the example chart below, you can see how the total at the end of the year is explained by each monthly variation. Positive values are shown in green, while negative ones are shown in red. The totals at the beginning and end of year are shown in blue.

Power-user l Waterfall chart

Some typical use cases for a waterfall chart are:

  • Displaying all the financial aggregates contributing to a Profit & Loss Statement,
  • Running a gap analysis, explaining visually what factors impacted positively and negatively a specific metric (for instance: activity in year N explained by activity in year N-1, minus churn, plus client acquisitions).

Users with Office 2016 or higher already have access from built-in Waterfall charts. Aside fro enabling the Waterfall chart to users with an older version of Office, Power-user Waterfalls enable showing multiple series of data (for instance, 2 products) on a single Waterfall.

Creating a Waterfall chart with Power-user

Power-user lets you build waterfall charts with amazing flexibility:

  • Easily define totals to create waterfalls that can be ascending, descending or both,
  • Show only one series, or cumulate multiple series on the same chart,
  • You chart can even go below the axis,
  • You can easily customize the chart design, changing colors, borders, labels etc.

Currently, Waterfall charts can only be created from the Excel ribbon of Power-user. 

  • From Excel, click Create Waterfall chart.
  • A dialog box will open, asking you to select the data source.
  • Select your data, including the row and column headers, and click OK to validate. The chart will be created automatically.

Your data should be organized with 1 column for each item in the Waterfall. The typical Waterfall having only 1 series, the data would be organized with just a header row and a row for the series values. If you have multiple series to show, use additional rows, as in the example below:

Power-user l Waterfall chart data source

Editing and customizing a Waterfall

To edit a Waterfall chart, right-click hit and hit Edit Waterfall chart.

Chart Options 

From the Chart Options tab of this edition menu, you can:

  • Add, remove or edit the title of your chart.
  • Edit the border color.
  • Hide or show totals for Categories or Labels.
  • Change the number format with a specific number of decimals for either values and/or percentages. 
  • Add or remove Connectors.

Waterfall chart l Chart Options

The chart labels will automatically be formatted the same way as the cells in your data source. So if you wish to edit the format of your labels, you can just format the source and update the chart.

Series Options

To edit the format of a specific Series on your chart, click the second tab, Series Options. From this menu you can select a specific Series from your chart, and then:

  • Change the fill color for this Series only.
  • Change the color, font size etc. of the labels for that data Series.
  • Set one of the values as a Total, making it go back to the horizontal axis of the chart instead of going up or down from the previous value.
Waterfall chart l Series Options


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