Inserting a Background Picture into the Chart’s Plot Area to Create Static Quadrants

Consulting Tools and Frameworks

You can insert a picture behind any Excel chart.

To create a static four quadrant background you will need to insert a picture into the chart. For this example I created a picture in a drawing program showing four quadrants, each quadrant a different color. Since the upper right was a positive outcome I chose green. The lower left was a risk quadrant so I chose pale red.

Static Four Quadrant Matrices keep equal sized quadrants and are used by many models.

Static Four Quadrant Matrices keep equal sized quadrants and are used by many models.

Next week’s newsletter describes how to create a Four Quadrant – Matrix Model where the background matrix can resize itself when mid-points change. This is very useful for example if you want quadrants to show above or below average. Watch for the article, How to Create a Dynamic Four Quadrant Matrix Model with a Combination Bubble and Column Excel Chart

Pictures can be inserted as backgrounds behind an entire chart or behind the Plot Area. In this case, we want the quadrants to align with chart axis and mid-points so it is inserted in the Plot Area. To do this,

1. Use a drawing program to create equally spaced quadrants with the colors you need. (I’ve included a sample you can download as well as an Excel file showing quadrants you can color and then save.) Save the file as a JPG or PNG file.

2. Select the Excel Plot Area by clicking in it so the four handles appear at each corner of the area enclosing the balloon chart. You can also select anywhere in the chart, click the Format tab and then look for the chart element selector at the far left on the ribbon.

3. Right-click the edge of the Plot Area and select Format Plot Area.

4. Select Fill, then the Picture or Fill option. Use the Insert File button to insert the graphic file from disk.

The picture will extend to the farthest edges of the Plot Area. If you did not scale your chart’s data and limit the X and Y axis to 100, then the mid-point for the quadrants will misalign with the mid-point of the data and axis.

Download this four color PNG image by clicking on it, then right click the image that appears and choose Save Image.

Download this four color background.

Download this four color background.


Download an Excel worksheet with four color matrix you can change colors with.