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Adaptive Insights LLC.

Column Chart: Primary and Secondary Axes Walk-through

Walks you through setting up a primary and secondary axes for dashboard charts - includes manual scaling.

Most charts consist of an x-axis and a y-axis, which are often enough to tell a complete data story. In some cases, a secondary axis is required, such as when you want to visualize the data of one series relative to another data series.

The following chart shows ending cash balance as the primary axis and net cash flow as the secondary axis. Showing both axes in this chart provide a more complete story around ending cash balances compared to net cash flow. Only the secondary axis scaled.

Column Chart with Scaled Secondary Axis

You can configure Bar, Column, and Line charts with a secondary axis. This article will explain how to set the primary and secondary axes and adjust the scale.

Before You Begin

You will need:

  • Required Permission: Access Dashboards.
  • Edit access to a private or shared perspective

This example focuses on setting up a column chart with a primary and secondary axes and assumes that the perspective and dashboard were previously created. This example visualizes data using Actuals as the default version. This example uses the following custom account and sub-accounts:

  • Cash Flow Accounts
    • Ending Cash Balance
    • Net Cash Flow

Your versions and accounts may be different than the ones illustrated in this example.

Create a Column Chart

The following is an example of a column chart with two data series – where both accounts are on the primary axis. You can improve the readability of this chart by defining a secondary axis. After completing these steps, you will have a chart that looks like:

Column Chart with Two Data Series on the Primary Axis

  1. Open the perspective and navigate to the dashboard. Select DIS-EditMode.png.
  2. From the left panel, drag  Column Chart icon to the design area to create a column chart.
  3. Add two accounts to the charts. 
  • Custom > Cash Flow Accounts > Ending Cash Balance
  • Custom > Cash Flow Accounts > Net Cash Flow
  1. From the right panel, select Appearance Settings tab to access the appearance settings and give your chart a name: Ending Cash Balance Relative to Net Cash Flow
  2. Select Disc-TimeSettings.png to access the time settings and change the date range for 9 months in the current year. For example:
    1. Stratum: Month
    2. Span: Range
    3. Pinned date: March 2018 - December 2018

Set up Primary and Secondary Axes

When creating a chart with a primary axis and secondary axis, determine which data series is the primary and secondary axis.  In this example, Ending Cash Balance is the primary data set. You want to visualize the ending cash balance compared to the net cash flow. The net cash flow in this example is the secondary axis.

Use the Data Settings tab to specify an account as a primary axis or secondary axis and to change the some of visual presentation of that data. For example, change the series type, show data labels, and change the color representing the data.

Define the Secondary Axis

You will define the Net Cash Flow data series as the secondary axis and change the series type to Line. After completing these steps, the chart will look like: 

Column Chart with Auto-scaled Primary and Secondary Axes

  1. Select Data Settings icon to access data settings.
  2. Change axis for the Ending Cash Balance data series:
    1. Series Type: Line.
    2. Series Y Axis: Secondary

Adjust the Scale of the Secondary Axis

You can adjust the scale of the primary and secondary axes from the Appearance Settings tab to enhance the visual impact of this chart. For this walkthrough, change only the scale of the secondary axis.

When setting the scale of an axis, keep the following in mind:

  • By default, an axis is set to auto scale. Make note of the minimum and maximum values on the axis before turning off Axis Auto Scaling. This information will help you set the minimum-maximum for the data series.
  • Adjusting the minimum and maximum values between two distinctly different data ranges may be necessary to achieve the visual result that you are looking for.

Change the scale of the secondary axis:

  1. Select Appearance Settings icon and expand the Axis section to change the appearance of the secondary axes. 
  2. Configure the secondary axis:
    1. Make note of the value range: Example: -2 to 8 (million)
    2. Set the Secondary Axis Auto Scaling to off.
    3. Set the Secondary Axis Minimum. Example: 0
    4. Set the Secondary Axis Maximum. Example: 20000000

This completes this walkthrough.

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