How to Create Free Dashboards

by Veronica Eskra; Updated September 26, 2017

A dashboard is a software tool that presents data in easy-to-read, updateable charts. A dashboard can track any kind of data for any purpose, but business professionals are the most frequent users. The main function of a dashboard is to draw raw data from a spreadsheet or database then present it in chart or graph form. Because a dashboard is updated, the data remains current and tracks any change or progress. Microsoft Excel is a simple program that can create dashboards, but an experienced programmer can create dashboards, using other tools such as Visual Basic, HTML, CSS and Javascript. You can also download free dashboard software and Excel templates offline.

Items you will need

  • Microsoft Excel
  • SQL or other database
  • Free dashboard software
  • Visual Basic

Excel Dashboards

Step 1

Upload data into an Excel spreadsheet. The first row should contain content headings, and the following rows are for data. Be sure to name the spreadsheet without using spaces or other characters; instead replace spaces with a “_” symbol.

Step 2

Create an outline of how you want the dashboard to look. This will depend on what data you are tracking and who will be looking at the dashboard. You will use this later to place the charts and graphs in the final product.

Step 3

Write formulas in Excel to turn your data into charts. The formula you need will depend on what you are charting and how you need to arrange it; You will find a link to a collection of Excel formulas in the Resources section.

Step 4

Use Excel tools such as formatting, form control, objects and graphs to create the dashboard. You can find all these tools in Excel by selecting Menu > View > Tool Bars. It is possible to create a dashboard using only the tools available in Excel, but if you have an understanding of other programming software or languages, those may be helpful for creating more visually appealing or interactive dashboards.

Step 5

Update your data to update the dashboard. You can choose how frequently you need to do this.

Dashboard Software

Step 1

Upload data into Excel spreadsheet or other database. Sometimes you can simple copy and paste, but it is easier to connect Excel to the database, or enter it manually. Some software may only be compatible with certain data storage software, so check to see what you need.

Step 2

Install the dashboard software of your choice.

Step 3

Import the data from the database into the software. You will have to choose the specific file name and file path. Again, be sure that your document title does not contain any spaces or unusual characters.

Step 4

Open the data file in the dashboard software. From here, you can use the various tools in the software to create the dashboard you need.


  • Creating a dashboard from scratch requires a lot of software and programming knowledge, so a more in-depth tutorial can give you specific programming tools and codes.

About the Author

Veronica Eskra began writing professionally in 2008. She worked as an intern reporter for "The Reporter" newspaper in the South suburbs of Chicago. Eskra is pursuing Bachelor of Arts degrees in both history and interdisciplinary communications from Elmhurst College.

Photo Credits

  • green graph world map silhouette image by Stuart Bolton from