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How Do I Create Pareto Charts in Excel Using SigmaXL?

Stratification with Pareto

SigmaXL's Pareto tool allows you to create Basic (Single) or Advanced (Multiple) Pareto Charts. Advanced Pareto charts are particularly useful in the Analyze Phase because of the ease with which you can slice and dice (or stratify) your data. Of course, Pareto charts are not limited to the Analyze Phase – they can also be used to aid project selection and to prioritize in the Measure Phase.

Consider the following guidelines to help ensure that your Pareto analysis is successful:
  • Your Pareto analysis will only be as good as the quality of the data collected. Ensure that you have the right data and that the data is correct. Use other graphs such as run charts to apply a sanity check to your data.
  • Check process stability using appropriate control charts. If the process is not in control, your prioritization of defects and root causes could be invalid.
  • Avoid collecting data over too short a time period. Your data may not be representative of the process as a whole. Also keep in mind that since the data is discrete, a minimum sample size of 500 is recommended with 1000 preferred.
  • Conversely, data gathered over too long a time period may include process changes that could lead to incorrect conclusions. SigmaXL provides a date subsetting feature that allows you to easily explore different time periods.
  • If your initial Pareto analysis does not yield useful results, explore other categories that may be important. SigmaXL's Advanced Charts makes it easy for you to 'slice and dice' your data with different X categories.
  • Consider Pareto charting measures such as cost and severity, in addition to defect counts. SigmaXL enables you to chart multiple Y responses.

Basic (Single) Pareto Charts

  1. Open the file Customer Data.xls. Click SigmaXL > Graphical Tools > Basic Pareto Chart.
  2. Ensure that entire data table is selected. If not, check Use Entire Data Table. Click Next.
  3. Select Major Complaint, click Pareto Category (X1) >>.

  4. Pareto Chart Variables

    Tip: SigmaXL will automatically count the number of unique items in the Pareto Category. If we had a separate column with a count (or cost), this count column would be selected as the Optional Numeric Count (Y).

  5. Click Next. Set Basic Chart Options as follows:

  6. Tab "Other" Bar/Cum Sum:
      Cum Sum Line – On Top of First Bar

    Basic Pareto Options

    Tab Chart Options:
      Category (X) Font – Slanted
      Data Labels – Check Bars, Cum Sum
    Check Save Defaults.

    Basic Pareto Options

    Tip: After you have saved your defaults, you can bypass the above options, by clicking Finish instead of Next at the original Basic Pareto Chart dialog box. The saved defaults will automatically be applied.

  7. Click Finish. The Pareto Chart is produced:


  8. Pareto Chart

Advanced (Multiple) Pareto Charts

  1. Click Sheet1 Tab of Customer Data.xls (or press F4 to activate last worksheet).
  2. Click SigmaXL > Graphical Tools > Advanced Pareto Options. Note that the Sample Charts have nothing to do with the data set being evaluated. They are used to dynamically illustrate how your options affect the charts to be produced.
  3. Set Order of Bars to Same Order on the "Other Bar"/Cum Sum options tab. This is typically used for comparative purposes. The Descending Order option makes each Chart a true Pareto Chart, but is less useful for comparison.

    Pareto Options

  4. Click Chart Options tab. Set according to choice – in this case we have selected Data Labels for the Bars but not for the Cum Sum line.

  5. Pareto Options

  6. Ensure that Save Defaults is checked. Note that these options will be saved and applied to all Advanced Pareto Charts. Click Finish.
  7. SigmaXL automatically takes you to the next step of Chart Generation (This is equivalent to clicking SigmaXL > Graphical Tools > Advanced Pareto Charts). If necessary, check Use Entire Data Table.
  8. Click Next.
  9. Select Major Complaint, click Pareto Category (X1) >>; select Customer Type, click Group Category (X2) >>.

  10. Advanced Pareto Variables

  11. Click OK. A Pareto Chart of Major Customer Complaints is produced for each Customer Type.

  12. Advanced Pareto Charts

  13. Click Sheet 1 Tab, Click SigmaXL > Graphical Tools > Advanced Pareto Charts.
  14. Ensure that entire data table is selected. If not, check Use Entire Data Table. Click Next. (Steps 10 and 11 can be bypassed with the Recall SigmaXL Dialog menu or by pressing F3 to recall last dialog). Select Major Complaint, click Pareto Category (X1) >>; select Size of Customer, click Group Category (X2) >>; select Product Type, click Group Category (X3) >>.

  15. Advanced Pareto Charts
    If a Numeric Count (Y) variable is not specified, SigmaXL automatically determines the counts from the Pareto Category (X1).

    Normally we would use a text column of discrete Xs, but be aware that numeric columns are also allowed. Be careful here – this could easily generate a very large number of charts.

    The total number of charts generated = (# of levels in X2) * (# of levels in X3) * (# of levels in X4) * (# of Y variables).


  1. Click OK. Multiple Paretos are generated:

  2. Multiple Pareto Charts

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