Microsoft Dynamics CRM Charts: Column Charts

Written By: Josh Behl

from April 2, 2012

In my previous article about charts I discussed the conceptual process for creating charts in general. In this article we will begin looking at examples of each type of chart available in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011. In the first series of examples, we’ll focus on basic examples and build upon them once we have had a chance to create a viable example of each one. While it may seem a bit overkill to go through each time of example, you’ll find that their particular features that are not available for particular chart types. Additionally, it is important to understand what kinds of scenarios each chart type is best suited for. With that, let’s first understand what kinds of charts are at our disposal through the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 interface.

***NOTE: it is important to point out that the types of charts available go beyond the chart types available through the application interface; however, we’ll start here and build on top of that.

Within Microsoft Dynamics CRM there are a number of chart types available by default:

  • Column Chart
  • Bar Chart
  • Line Chart
  • Pie Chart
  • Funnel Chart
  • Multi-Series Chart
  • Comparison Chart (Stacked Chart)
  • Mixed Chart

When faced with prospect of creating a chart, it is not only important to know what charts are available, but to understand the most proper and effective uses of each of these chart types. Charts are used to tell stories, evaluate alternatives, and understand trends. So, an incorrect charting choice can lead to poor judgment of the messages where as a correct chart can lead to right and faster decisions. The first chart we will create is a Column Chart.

Column Chart

To show how to create a column chart, we will use the following scenario that most Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 customers/ environments can relate to: The number of accounts by state.

  1. Within the main application window, click Workplace.
  2. Within the Customers sub-area, click Accounts.
  3. Choose a view to start on.
  4. While your charts can be used on any view, it helps to start on a view that you know will have some data. So, in this example, I am going to start on Active Accounts.
  5. At the top of the application window, click the Charts
  6. On the Charts navigational ribbon, click the New Chart
  7. You’ll notice that once you click the New Chart button, the Chart Tools: Design Ribbon will appear as well as the Chart Designer Window located on the right side of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 interface.
  8. Within the Chart Design window, enter Number of Accounts By State.
  9. Within the Legend Entries (Series) section, select Address1:State/Province and leave the aggregation drop-down at Count-All.
  10. It is important to note that the aggregation drop-down located to the right of the selected field for this series is dynamically populated based upon the data type of the field selected in the first Legend Entries (Series) drop-down. For example, in this exercise we selected Address1: State/Province. This field is a simple text field so the only two aggregations at our disposal are:
    1. Count All
    2. Count: Non-Empty
    3. In comparison, if we were to select Annual Revenue from the Legend Entries (Series) drop-down, the available aggregations would include the following:
    4. Avg
    5. Count All
  • Count Non=Empty
  1. Max
  2. Min
  3. Sum
  4. Once you select the series, we can select one or more Categories.
  5. In this example, select Address1: State/Province from the Horizontal (Category) Axis Labels.
  6. Once you select the category, you’ll notice that the application renders for you what the chart will look like within the application.
  7. Once, you have completed creating the chart, save it by clicking Save and Close on the Charts navigational ribbon.
  8. NOTE: We will discuss the Top X Rule, Bottom X Rule, and Clear Rules buttons in a later lesson.
  9. Once saved, you’ll be able to see your chart based upon the view you are currently on.
  10. From this point, you’ll notice that the Charts navigational ribbon looks like this:
  11. Finally, in this example, we have focused on the Active Accounts What is great about charts is that they are available for any view tied to the entity (record type) you configured the chart against. For example, if I click on the View button to change the view I am looking at and change it from Active Accounts to My, I will see that my chart results have changed:
  12. Your charts can be used against both publically available views or views you create yourself through the Advanced Find
  13. Once I have created and perhaps modified by chart a bit, I can interact with it by clicking on the columns in my column chart (frankly I can do this for any of my charts). For example, if I change my view back to Active Accounts, I can click on one off my columns and it will do two different things:
  14. First, it will change the results I see in my view.
  15. Second, you’ll notice that the chart now provides me an option to drill into that particular column and provide a different visualization to it.


  1. For example, I will chose to display a pie chart of the accounts from TX broken down by City. To do this, I click the pie chart icon and select Address1: City from the Select Field drop-down list
  2. Once I have selected by value from the drop-down list and selected my chart type, I click on the run arrow.
    1. You can continue to drill into each section of a chart for many levels.


  1. If you want to go back to the previous level of your chart, click on the Chart: Back Arrow


  1. If you want to go back to the origional chart, click on the Chart: Home

You’ll find that depending upon the size of the data set you are querying that the results may appear quite cluttered in your chart. While it is certainly possible to view the data in this case, as you can see there are some states where we have a very small number. In these cases, you may consider filtering the number of records conveyed in your chart. To do this:

  1. Go to the Chart Design ribbon and click the Top X Rule button
  2. Once clicked, you’ll be provided with the following three options:
  3. Top 3 Items
  4. Top 5 Items
  5.   Custom
  6. The top two options (Top 3 items and Top 5 items) are pretty intuitive as to what they do, however, if we click Custom, you’ll be presented a window that prompts you to enter the number of records you want returned.
  7. In this case, I will enter 10, click OK, and then click Save and Close on the Chart Design
  8. Now, our chart is much more readable. I could also have chosen to click the Bottom X Rule button and choose the bottom number of records of my choosing. The process works exactly the same as selecting the top number of records.

Since column charts are arguably the easiest chart type for most users to understand visually, it made sense to start our series of tutorials with that particular chart type. In the upcoming articles, we will provide relevant examples for each of the other chart types. While the process will be almost identical for each of them, it helps to see actual examples of each one and examples that are best suited for each chart type. Additionally, in upcoming articles, we will also explore the use of multiple categories and multiple series. That being said, take time to practice using the simple example outlined in this article. Once mastered, we’ll continue to our next article covering other variations of the column chart.