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Tutorial for Tools 020 – Stackable Gauges

Using the Stackable Gauges

Dashboards are used to show a point-in-time snapshot of a company's health and status. Dashboards can be comprised of data-driven charts, qualitative charts, maps with color coding to show rankings for regions, or gauges, like those in this series. This series contains five gauges, each different. This series is not a set of the same gauge in different segment variations. Each segment tells a different story: cold to hot, empty to full, two gauges with measurement increments in 5s, gauge with a needle that registers two measurements at once. The gauges are only offered as PowerPoint downloads because the needles have been developed and grouped so that manual and animated spins are easy to accomplish.

These gauges are very well suited for multiple comparisons. The series example displays performance over time against the same values, which works very well. They also work well when space is an issue. Notice on the series example that the gauges effectively convey their messages, but they don't take the whole chart real estate to do so.

There are from 1- to 24-segment variations, each with multiples of two and five gauges. Every gauge has been animated to spin the full range of the gauge: 277°. Divide 277 by the number of segments in the gauge you wish to use, and that will be your segment increment in degrees. Then simply add the segment increment by the number of segments you wish the needle to travel to arrive at the spin degree that can be set in the animation menu.

You can change the starting point of the needle to another position on the gauge as well, however. It's easy and explained in detail in the tutorial. Spins can be animated to move clockwise and counterclockwise and various speeds. Many choices to tell a precise story.

Customizing the Gauges

Adjust size

Group all elements of the gauge and size as one field holding the shift key down to resize/scale. Be sure not to ungroup the needle group. It's grouped with a counterpoint that has no fill or line color so that it is easy for you to either manually spin or apply an animated spin to the needle. The needle group, therefore, spins in place without wobble. To spin manually, click on the needle group and put pointer on the green dot handle (see below); then spin the needle to the desired position.

Since the downloads are animated, if you group to resize you'll need to reanimate. Refer to the Animation section at the bottom of the tutorial.

Color variations

You can apply fill and line colors to the segments of these gauges. Colors can be used for interest or to highlight segments of interest within the gauges.

We used red for the needle color because red draws the eye. The needle should be the most visible and distinctive part of the gauge. If you recolor the needle, however, be sure not to color the counterpoints/circles (explained above). You can select fields within a group and color them individually, and we recommend that you recolor in this manner. If you do add color to the whole needle group and the counterpoint dot shows up, just select the counterpoint and reset the fill to "no fill" and the line color to "no line" without ungrouping. If you do color the whole needle group instead of just the needle within the group, the needle group may show up like the examples above (in red).

3D variations

3D does not work well applied to the gauges. The different fields on the dial don't layer well when 3D is applied. This is true even at very shallow depths.


Don't use shadows on this type of framework. When the needle spins, its shadow needs to move to look realistic. The shadow effects in PowerPoint don't do this well enough to appear realistic.

Gradients, patterns, and pictures

There's nothing in these gauges to format with a gradient. If you want to draw a circle and place it behind the dial rim, you can apply a very subtle gradient to the circle (as a background for the gauge).


The PowerPoint downloads have the needle pointing to the minimum position and spins on one click to the maximum position. You can, however, change the spin percentages so that the needle stops at any desired position on the gauge. This is sometimes a trial-and-error process.

How to animate these gauges

Every gauge has been animated to spin the full range of the gauge: 277°. To stop the needle at a spot other than the maximum point, follow the steps below.

  1. Divide 277 by the total number of segments in the gauge, e.g., 277 divided by 5 segments = 55.4
  2. Decide where you want your needle to stop on the gauge, e.g., you want the needle to stop at the center of the third segment
  3. Multiply 55.4 by 2.5, e.g., 55.4 x 2.5 = 138.5
  4. Set the spin degree to 138.5 in the animation menu. There's a tip for setting the spin degree: when you input your numbers hit enter. Then you spin degree will be set. It doesn't set the new spin value unless you hit enter.

See the FAQ entitled, "How can I best animate the pendulum, gauges, and other frameworks so that the pendulums/needles swing?" for the steps for setting spin increments in the animation menu. This is for PowerPoint 2003, but the steps are basically the same for all versions of PowerPoint. To get to the animation menu in PowerPoint 2007 and 2010 where the spin degrees are set, click the following ...

  1. PowerPoint 2007: click on Animations in the ribbon on top; click on Custom Animations in the Animations menu below the ribbon; the Custom Animation menu will appear to the right of your side.
  2. PowerPoint 2010: click on the Animations tab; click on Animation Pane in the Advanced Animation menu; the Animation Pane will appear to the right of your slide.
Then just follow the steps in the FAQ above.

Series that relate to this tutorial:

TO020 – Tool 020 – Stackable Gauges

Possible use example

Links to instructions for getting the framework into your presentation

  1. Determine the best file type for your needs
  2. Download the file
  3. Import the framework into your presentation
    1. Importing a PPT file
    2. Importing a EMF or PNG
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