Icons are a great way to quickly add visual indicators to data in spreadsheets. They’re easy to add, and they help you make your data easier to understand at a glance. Apply them to your data, and you’ll find that you’ve immediately brought helpful context to the table. Let’s learn how to add icon sets in Microsoft Excel.
How to Add Icon Sets in Excel
Icon sets are directional indicators. For example, they may take the form of “traffic lights” by using the same color palette. Green is positive, yellow is neutral, and red is negative. By adding icon sets to data, you can visually illustrate how values relate to each other, as well as to the overall dataset.
Consider a list of five numbers, ranging from $35,000 to $68,000. Icon sets can help you show which values are high, low, and in the middle.
To add an icon set to this data, click and drag your cursor to select the range of values. In this example, the range is D2:D6. Then, navigate to the Home tab, found on Excel’s ribbon.
On the right side of the menu, you’ll see the Conditional Formatting dropdown. Click here, and you’ll see a list of options displayed. These are grouped by category, and the one you want is labeled Icon Sets. Hover over it, and you’ll see icon set categories displayed.
Two common options are placed at the top: Directional icons and Shapes. Many options in both categories follow the green/yellow/red logic outlined above.
For this example, click on the Shape category labeled 3 Traffic Lights (Unrimmed). Excel will immediately apply the formatting to your selected data. Based on their relative value, each cell will have a green, yellow, or red traffic light icon placed inside.
As you can see, icon sets in Excel are a quick and easy way to add visual context to your data.