Create a Calendar Chart – Part 1

Bottom Line: Create a progress chart that looks like a calendar and shows which days a task was completed.

Skill Level: Intermediate

Make a calendar chart

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Download the Excel Files

You can follow along using the BEGIN file or go straight to the end result using the FINAL file.

Progress Charts

We've been looking at 8 ways to make progress charts.

8 types of progress charts

We started with Gauge Charts and Steps Charts. Now, I want to walk you through how to build a Calendar Chart, which colors in the days of the month when tasks are completed or progress is made toward a goal.

Calendar chart

This type of chart is helpful for any type of personal habits, like tracking fitness goals. It's also great for business use. You can track attendance, sales goals, or other achievements that can be reached daily.

Creating a Calendar Chart

The calendar chart begins as an X-Y scatter chart. So start by selecting the X and Y data in the spreadsheet provided at the top of this post. With that data selected, go to the Insert tab and choose the first option in the Scatter chart menu, which is an X-Y scatter chart.

Scatter chart menu

When you do, a chart like this will appear:

Scatter chart basic

The X and Y data that we highlighted is what creates the 6 rows and 7 columns of the chart.

Format the Chart

With the chart selected, go to the Chart Design tab and click Select Data. That will open up this window.

Chart data range

Click on Edit to rename the series by clicking on the cell that says Current Month.

Chart data ranges

Then hit OK.

Now let's format the dots. With the chart selected, go to the Format tab and choose Series “Current Month” from the dropdown.

Selection menu

Then click Format Selection in the Ribbon to open up the task pane to the right of your worksheet. Under the Fill & Line options, go to the Marker section and choose the following options:

  • Marker Options: Built-In
  • Size: 19
  • Fill: Solid Fill
  • Color: Light Grey
  • Border: No Line
Format data series task pane

Your chart should be looking something like this now.

calendar chart grey days

Add Data Labels

Next, we want to add the numbers to the dots representing the days of the month. With the chart selected, click on the plus sign (+) that appears near the right-top corner of the chart. Select Data Labels, and then More Options.

Chart Elements menus

In the task pane on the right, go to the Label Options. Click the checkbox that says Value From Cells.

Forma Data labels task pane

That will open a box for you to choose your data label range. Select the range from the Date Label column in the data.

Data label range

In the task pane, uncheck the boxes for Y Value and Show Leader Lines. You'll also want to Center the Label Position. Your chart will now look like this:

calendar chart progress

These data labels are dynamic. That means if I change the calendar start date, all of the subsequent dates for the month will be updated as well, thanks to the formula I've written in the data. If you want a separate post explaining that formula, let me know in the comments and I will create one.

Adding the Colored Days

Now that we have the grey dots for each day of the calendar, we can overlay our colored dots for days where we want to show our progress.

In the data, I've used a COUNTIF formula to look for dates where we have entered “Yes,” indicating our goal for that date was met. If it finds a Yes, it will return the value equal to that date and plot a dot on that date in the chart. If it doesn't find a Yes, it will return an #N/A error and no dot will be plotted.

To add the colored dots, start by selecting the chart and going to the Chart Design tab. Choose Select Data. Then click the Add button in the Select Data Source window.

Selct data source

For Series Name, choose the cell that says Complete (color). The Series X values will be the range of data under the X. For the Series Y values, select the range of data under the Y.

Edit series

Hit OK, and then OK again, and you will see that your chart has small colored dots overlaying some of the grey ones. We just need to format these dots.

Choose the Series “Complete (color)” on the Format tab.

Selection menu

Then, in the task pane, select all of the same options as before, but use a different color. Now your chart looks like this:

Calendar chart

If you like, you can change the font color of the data labels to appear white instead of black.

calendar chart

Adding Days of the Week

Now let's add initials for the days to the top of the chart. With the chart selected, go to the Chart Design tab, hit the Select Data button, and choose Add under Legend Entries.

Select data source

For the Series name, select the cell that says Day Labels. The Series X values should be the data in the Day Label column. For the Series Y values, select the data in the Value column.

Edit Series

This doesn't look like it does much to the chart, but once we change the chart type, it will make more sense. With the chart selected, go to the Chart Design tab, and hit Change Chart Type.

In the Change Chart Type window, select Combo in the left menu, and then these settings:

  • Current Month: Scatter
  • Complete (color): Scatter
  • Day Labels: Clustered Column

You also want to uncheck any of the Secondary Axis boxes that are checked.

Change Chart Type

If, as in the image above, your chart shows zeros along the bottom, just above the Day Labels, you can click on that series and then uncheck the box for Data Labels to make them go away.

Your chart now looks like this:

Calendar Chart

Moving the Day Labels

To move those days of the week to the top, select that data series and then choose the High setting for the Label Position in the task pane.

Format Axis task pane

You can remove the Axes and Gridlines, and also the line around the chart, if you wish. Next, you want to add a chart title by checking the Chart Title box in the menu and then linking it to the chart title in the data. Here's your final result!

Completed Calendar Chart

You are welcome to copy this chart and all of its data into your own workbooks so that you don't have to build it from scratch. When you do, you'll either have to adjust the data in the yellow columns or point the COUNTIF formula to your existing data, wherever it resides.


This is Part 1 of the Calendar Chart tutorial. In the next post, we'll learn how to make the chart interactive by adding a spin button for the months of the year, we'll look at some different styles for the chart, and we'll add a weekly goals feature.

What type of progress, tasks, or activities would you use this kind of chart for? Leave a comment and let me know! Questions and suggestions are welcome there too.

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