think-cell is a popular charting add-in for PowerPoint. Q can be used to automatically update think-cell charts with new data (new surveys or filtered data, for example). This is done by using Q's automated exporting and updating of Excel documents.

Q research software logo

Step 1: Create the tables in Q

Q is the world's leading software for analyzing survey data. It is able to produce an extremely wide range of analyses, from traditional crosstabs through to ad hoc calculations. Use Q to organize your data into tables before adding them to Excel.

Step 2: Export to Excel on a single sheet

In Q, select the tables, and press the Excel button at the top of the screen. If you have multiples tables, press Advanced and choose Export as one worksheet.

the "export to microsoft excel" button in Q

Step 3: Modify the data in Excel to prepare it for think-cell

When Q exports data tables, it does so in a way that is optimized for the standard charting in Excel and PowerPoint. However, think-cell's setup requirements are a bit different. On the left, below, you can see how the data has been exported by Q. To the right I have modified it to be in the format required by think-cell. I have not cut and pasted the data for think-cell; rather, I have it set as formulas (e.g., cell J22 contains the formula =A22). This ensures that when I re-export the data from Excel, the data prepared for think-cell will also update automatically.

an Excel table ready for think-cell

Step 4: Create the think-cell chart

Next, create the think-cell chart in the usual way from within Excel, which adds the chart to PowerPoint. In PowerPoint we then format it as we wish. In the example below, I have created a waterfall chart.

a think-cell waterfall chart

Step 5: Automatic updating

The previous four steps have set up a chart which can be automatically updated. You can create lots of different charts in a presentation the same way and update them all automatically. The automatic updating is done with a few simple steps:

  • In Q, revise the data (e.g., import a revised data file)
  • In Q, press the export button to Excel again and choose Update when asked. This replaces the existing tables in Excel with the new data.
  • If your new tables contain more or fewer categories, you will need to change think-cell's data selections in Excel (by dragging and dropping).
  • Finally, in PowerPoint, click on each chart and press the Excel flag (top-right of the chart) to update to the revised data.

an automatically updated think-cell chart

This process can allow you to update all the charts with revised data in a PowerPoint document in a matter of seconds.