This blog is a rather vain one. I will just be walking you through my process of creating a dashboard background using Microsoft PowerPoint for my first Dashboard Week project. I will share some of my planning considerations and how I used PowerPoint to achieve that, and hopefully by the end of this blog, you will consider making a background image in PowerPoint too.

(Note: If you are not sure how to do some of what I describe here, check out my blog on creating buttons in PowerPoint. There are a lot more details there.)


The Idea

The objective of the project was to create a dashboard using data from the, a treasure trove of data on games. I wanted to go with a more playful look and also be more daring in the use of colours than I would usually be, so that kind of set the tone right from the start. I also wanted to have a light theme with dark font colours, which implied that my background will have to be light enough for the words to stand out too.


The Process

I went with a long(-ish) dashboard design, and decided that I should wait until the dashboard’s dimensions are pretty much set in stone before even starting on the background. Eventually, the dashboard came in at 1200px by 1200px — a square. When I was ready to create my background, the first thing I did in PowerPoint was to go the Design menu, select Slide Size >> Custom Slide Size..., and then set both the height and the width to 1200px.


At this stage, I was thinking of making a background with repeated patterns, so I set about looking for an apt icon that I could use, eventually deciding on one that depicts a game controller. The colour scheme of the dashboard was white, near-black, light violet, and light teal, so I used the latter two colours to create a starting pattern. PowerPoint has lines that help align elements and also space them out equally, so it was very easy to make this:


Next, I duplicated the patterns and spaced them out evenly to create this two-line pattern…


…which, in turn, were duplicated to fill up the entire slide.


At this point, the background was pretty much done. However, the colours are way too intense and would make all my dashboard elements hard to see. So I added a plain ol’ Rectangle shape, made it as large as the slide (1200px by 1200px), made sure it had no outline, then coloured it white and changed the transparency to 42% so that the colourful patterns just about peeked through:


Finally, I just selected all of the elements on this slide (CTRL+A or similar), right-clicked, selected Save as Picture..., and it’s ready to be used in Tableau! If you are curious about how it turned out on the dashboard, you can check it out on Tableau Public.



J Tay
Author: J Tay