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Create a Shaded Region on a Chart with Plotly and Excel

A Step-by-Step Guide to Create a Shaded Region on a Chart

Step 1

Upload your Excel data to Plotly's grid

Open the data file for this tutorial in Excel. You can download the file here in CSV format

Excel view

Step 2

Head to Plotly

Head to Plotly's Workspace and sign into your free Plotly account. Go to 'Import,' click 'Upload a file,' then choose your Excel file to upload. Your Excel file will now open in Plotly's grid. For more about Plotly's grid, see this tutorial

Import data

Step 3

Creating Your Chart

Once you've loaded the data in Plotly, label your columns like we did below. You'll have Z scores and probability density as one x-y combination. You'll also have a second x-y combination; this is critical for shading purposes! Then, select 'Line plots' from the CHOOSE PLOT TYPE menu. When you're finished, click on the blue 'LINE PLOT' button in the sidebar.

Grid

Your plot would initially look something like this.

Original

In order recreate a typical Standard Normal Probability Density Function graph, we'll smooth out the traces. Head to the 'Traces' menu and select 'All traces' within the drop down menu. Click the 'Style' menu and select the smooth 'Shape' as we highlight in the image below.

Smooth

Take a moment to resize your plot to something less wide. A width of 800 and a height of 600 seems reasonable. Head to the layout menu to do this.

Resize

With our particular data, a normal score range is -1 to 1, so we'll shade that region. Head to the 'Traces' menu and select 'Col4' from the drop down menu. Then, within the 'Fill To' area, select 'Y=0.' Your plot should then look similar to the one below.

Shade

For clarification, we'll revist our grid. Since we wanted the region between -1.0 and 1.0 shaded, our second x-y combination contained values up to -1 and 1. If we wanted the region between -1.5 and 1.5 shaded, for instances, we would have included those values in our second x-y combination. We've highlighted the extra steps to illustrate this difference; it all depends on your indivdual shading needs!

Grid2

Step 4

Finalizing Your Graph

Your graph should now look something like this.

Final

Head to the 'Traces' menu and then the 'Style' tab to set the trace color to your liking. You can title your graph and axes like we did. You can also blank out the legend, as it is not particularly necessary for this graph. Hide the legend within the 'Legend' menu.

Styling

Here's our finished graph.

Finished

You can download your finished Plotly graph to embed in your Excel workbook. We also recommend including the Plotly link to the graph inside your Excel workbook for easy access to the interactive Plotly version. Get the link to your graph by clicking the 'Share' button. Download an image of your Plotly graph by clicking EXPORT on the toolbar.

Export

To add the Excel file to your workbook, click where you want to insert the picture inside Excel. On the INSERT tab inside Excel, in the ILLUSTRATIONS group, click PICTURE. Locate the Plotly graph image that you downloaded and then double-click it. Notice that we also copy-pasted the Plotly graph link in a cell for easy access to the interactive Plotly version.

Excel workbook

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