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Excel Guide

How to Generate a Heat Map in Excel: A Detailed Procedure

The process of generating a heat map in Excel using a pre-made template and provide a step-by-step walkthrough for creating a heat map from the ground up. Upon completion of this guide, you'll have the capability to produce your own Excel heat maps for effective data visualization.

Understanding a Heat Map

A heat map serves as a graphical representation technique for data displayed in a two-dimensional format. Typically, it is used to illustrate the outcomes of statistical analyses, such as correlation matrices or multivariate data. These maps are versatile and can be utilized for various purposes, including:

  • Comparing two or more data sets
  • Detecting outliers within data
  • Identifying trends in data
  • Determining significant parts of a dataset

In a heat map, data is showcased using a color scale. This color scale may consist of various colors such as red, yellow, green, blue, and purple. The choice of colors in a heat map is often influenced by the type of data being represented. For instance, warmer colors like red and yellow typically signify more positive data, while cooler colors like blue and green represent more negative data.

Creating a Heat Map in Excel

Step 1: Data SelectionCommence by selecting the data you intend to represent in the heat map, whether in the form of a table or matrix. For this guide, we'll work with a table of data, either created in Excel or imported from another software application.

Step 2: Cell SelectionOnce the data is chosen, select the cells that are part of the heat map. Click on the upper-left cell of the data, then drag the mouse to the lower-right corner to highlight the entire range.

Step 3: Choosing ColorsSelect a color scheme to represent your data. Experiment with various options. For this guide, the chosen color scheme includes:

  • Red: Values ≥ 0.8
  • Yellow: Values between 0.6 and 0.8
  • Green: Values between 0.4 and 0.6
  • Blue: Values between 0.2 and 0.4
  • Purple: Values < 0.2

Step 4: Applying Color SchemeAfter selecting cells and choosing a color scheme, apply it. Click on "Conditional Formatting" in the "Styles" group on the "Home" tab in Excel. Choose "Color Scales" and then the desired color scheme. The selected cells will now reflect the chosen color scheme.

Step 5: Adding LabelsLastly, label the heat map by selecting cells, clicking "Insert" in the "Labels" group, and using "Text Box" to add labels. You can also insert a title for the heat map by selecting "Title."


This guide has provided a detailed process on creating heat maps in Excel, whether utilizing a template or building from scratch. By following these steps, you'll gain the ability to visualize your data effectively through your own Excel heat maps.