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Graphs Waterfall Chart

Waterfall Chart


Visualize and understand the cumulative effect of sequentially added positive or negative values.

What is a waterfall chart?

At its core, the waterfall chart is a stacked bar chart with a visible and an invisible series of bars. The invisible series acts as a placeholder that hides the previous amount, to help the viewer understand changes in the distribution. Incremental bars add up, decremental bars subtract from the previous value. Commonly the initial and the final values are represented by whole columns starting at a zero baseline. Intermediate values are shown as floating columns that begin based on the value of the previous column. Connecting lines help the viewer to see the increments. These strokes avoid distracting or adding clutter to the chart. Vizzlo’s waterfall chart is the easiest and most beautiful alternative to the Excel waterfall chart.

Waterfall charts are widely adopted in accounting and sales, as well as in management. It is regularly used by strategic consulting firms to analyze cash flows. It is used as an instrument to estimate the value of a company to address key questions that can come up from stakeholders.

A typical use-case of a waterfall chart is the so-called EBITDA bridge to analyze business performances. That is a breakdown of individual components that contribute to the movement in a company’s EBITDA. A Waterfall chart quickly and effectively shows the drivers of profitability. Waterfall charts are a tool to alleviate some of the burden to layout easy-to-follow explanations of business performance.
Use it also to forecast financial performance, based on the estimated effects of economic and political drivers, such as tax reliefs, price increases, mergers and acquisitions.

Environmental agencies use waterfall charts too, e.g. to visualize the annual change of CO2 emissions by breaking down the main drivers of that development.

Fun fact: This chart is also referred to as flying bricks chart or Mario chart due to its floating bars—their look closely resembles the way bricks are laid out in 2D Jump ‘n’ Run games like the classic “Mario Bros.” arcade of the early 1980s.

How to create a waterfall chart with Vizzlo?
  • Switch to horizontal mode by one click.
  • Set colors for positive and negative values.
  • Click on any bar to change its value or properties like color.
  • Import your data from your Microsoft Excel file or CSV file, or paste it into Vizzlo’s spreadsheet.
  • Add a subtotal column by clicking on the “Σ” handles on the right side of any selected bar.
  • Add Sum / Difference arrows to compare values across bars.
  • Explore the layout settings to show or hide the connectors, and choose how to display the labels.
Waterfall chart maker: key features
  • Adjust the width of the bars.
  • Change colors of bars and lines.
  • Show axes and grid lines.
  • Show multiple subtotal columns.
  • Show individual values.
  • Optional labeling of bars.
  • Compare values across bars by their sum, difference, growth rate, or ratio.
  • Add a shade to highlight parts of the chart.
  • Show sum values above the bars.
  • Adjust the number format, add prefix or suffix.
  • Set minimum and maximum values for the y-axis.
  • Add a scale break to the y-axis.
  • Show multiple series per category.
Waterfall Chart: What's new?
Mar 31, 2022

Fixed a bug that could result in a wrong color on a column if both a scale break and custom minimum value were used.

Mar 17, 2022

Fixed a bug that could cause one record settings to interfere with other records.

Mar 9, 2022

Fixed a bug with subtotal bars when Start from baseline was used.

Jan 13, 2022

The drag and drop of records is working smoothly again.

Jan 10, 2022

Labels are now positioned correctly regardless of any style changes.

Nov 4, 2021

NEW: You can now restart the Waterfall from the baseline.

Positive and negative values are now stacked in the same column

Nov 1, 2021

NEW: The styling of individual numerical value labels can now be modified—much in the same way you’ve been able to format the text labels before.

Axis titles can now be disabled.

Jul 26, 2021

NEW: Subtotal (or “sum”) columns in waterfall charts now support showing multiple categories—even if the sum of some categories is negative. Check out this cool animation to see this feature in action:

Jun 7, 2021

The placement of certain value labels (and the UI to manage them) has been improved. We fixed a bug where sometimes multiple columns would not collapse into one after you edited the spreadsheet.

May 10, 2021

We keep on giving a lot of ❤️ to the Waterfall chart.

NEW Add a level difference arrow to indicated changes from one position to another in basis points now.

Moreover, this release contains 6 bug fixes.

May 5, 2021

🎉 We have given the sum difference arrows a makeover.

New functionality includes:

  • drag and drop
  • vertical adjustment of the calculations
  • improved positioning when multiple arrows are added
  • streamlined user interface

With this release we also fixed 4 bugs in the chart related to the sum difference arrows.

Apr 23, 2021

NEW Most of our data visualisations now support SI prefixes, advanced number format options for axes and shown data labels.

Jan 11, 2021

Axis settings are getting more flexible: we have added the option to hide axis labels.

Nov 11, 2020

The waterfall chart supports Level Difference Arrows too.

Nov 9, 2020

A minor change to minor values. The position of these values was improved when they were placed at the top of a chart. Waterfall charts in PowerPoint presentations should especially benefit from this where margins are set to 0 by default.

Sep 9, 2020

You can now hide vertical and horizontal axis lines.

May 28, 2020

We set better defaults for the axis labels when you customize the range of the y-axis

May 25, 2020

NEW We added more customization options to the Sum / Difference arrows. Instead of calculations, it is now possible to show free text.

May 15, 2020

NEW More options to compare values across bars using Sum/Difference Arrows.

  • Sum
  • Differences
  • Growth rate
  • Ratios
May 8, 2020

NEW The label for Sum/Difference Arrows can be moved now.

Dec 4, 2019

Performance improvements of the text rendering – resizing columns and writing text is a lot faster now. 🏃‍♀️

Nov 28, 2019

NEW The Waterfall chart is now also available in horizontal mode!

This vizzard was last updated: 2022-06-07

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