A Comprehensive Review of Think-Cell (2022)

Think-Cell Logo

Summary of Think-Cell

What we like

  • Easy-to-use: Think-Cell integrates well with PowerPoint and the UX is highly intuitive, so it doesn’t take long to master.
  • Breadth of charts and decorations: Think-Cell includes a broad range of different chart types (e.g. waterfall charts, Mekko charts and Gantt charts) and chart decorations (e.g. CAGR arrows, difference arrows, and value lines).
  • Integrations: Think-Cell’s Excel integration is simple and robust, and there are no issues with Excel links breaking or not updating. Plus, they also have a built-in Tableau integration.
  • Compatibility: Think-Cell charts gracefully convert to native PowerPoint charts and shapes for anybody that doesn’t have the add-on installed.

What we dislike

  • Control over slide layouts: The auto-layout feature is a great way to build and update slides quickly, but you give up some control over the slide’s style and it can take quite a while to master.
  • Price and licensing: Think-Cell is positioned for companies, not individuals, so you must purchase a minimum of 5 licenses.

Bottom line

Slide Science rating: (4.5)

After using Think-Cell for over 500 hours, we think that Think-Cell is the most powerful charting add-on for PowerPoint. Compared to other solutions, it has the simplest user interface, the widest range of chart options, and the most robust Excel integration.

$18 USD / month from think-cell.com*

*Estimate only: paid annually in EUR, minimum 5 licenses, currency converted on 4/6/2022

Why you should trust this review

I’ve spent a total of 5 years working as a consultant at a leading global firm and in the strategy team at one of the world’s largest banks. Over that time, I built literally thousands of slides using Think-Cell.

I also run the largest unofficial YouTube channel for Think-Cell tutorials and I’m featured in the Tips & Tricks section of the Think-Cell website.

Since leaving consulting, I teach consultants, corporate professionals and students how to communicate effectively using PowerPoint presentations.

Not only do I have a strong grasp of what is required to create professional, CEO-ready slide decks, but also have years of hands-on experience understanding the ins and outs of Think-Cell.

Why you should consider a PowerPoint charting add-on

When considering a PowerPoint charting add-on, you first need to determine why you’re looking for a solution. There are a few reasons why you might consider purchasing an add-on:

Firstly, you might want to increase the speed at which you create charts and slides in PowerPoint. Many charting add-ons simplify and improve the native PowerPoint user interface, workflows and integrations.

Secondly, you might want to create a chart that’s not available natively in PowerPoint. Some common charts that are missing from PowerPoint include waterfall charts, Mekko charts and Gantt charts.

And finally, you might want to increase the effectiveness of your charts with charting decorations and other features not available natively in PowerPoint. Some examples include CAGR arrows, value difference arrows, and value lines.

Our comprehensive Think-Cell review

Think-Cell is a PowerPoint add-on that helps you create advanced charts and slide layouts. It is the most popular PowerPoint charting add-on in the world. It’s used by over 950,000 people at over 23,000 companies, including 8 of the top 10 consulting firms.

Think-Cell integrates seamlessly with PowerPoint. Once you install the Think-Cell plugin, a new section will appear under the “Insert” section of your PowerPoint ribbon.

The toolbar looks and behaves just like other native parts of the PowerPoint ribbon. And importantly, there is no lag as you click through the dropdowns and menus.

Think-Cell Toolbar
The Think-Cell toolbar integrates seamlessly into the PowerPoint ribbon

The toolbar gives you access to the key Think-Cell functionality. This includes:

  • Charting: Column charts, bar charts, line charts, area charts, scatterplots, bubble charts, waterfall charts, Mekko charts, Gantt charts, and more.
  • Layouts: Text boxes, process flows and tables that automatically re-arrange to fit their contents. Plus agendas and tables of contents.
  • Excel integrations: Automatically populating and updating a chart’s data from an external Excel file.
  • Extended PowerPoint functionality: Useful functionality that’s not found natively in PowerPoint, such as saving and sending individual slides.

We’ll cover each of these in more detail in the next few sections.

Charting options

Think-Cell contains a wide range of different chart types, including column charts, bar charts, line charts, area charts, scatterplots, bubble charts, waterfall charts, Mekko charts, Gantt charts, and more.

It’s very simple to insert a chart. You simply click on the elements menu, click on the chart that you’d like to use, and then drop the chart anywhere on your slide canvas.

Think-Cell Charts List
The Think-Cell elements menu contains all charts and most other elements

Once you have inserted your chart on your slide canvas, a popup containing an Excel datasheet will appear. This is where you insert the data for your chart. Not only can you type in raw numbers, but you can use Excel formulas for dynamic calculations.

Think-Cell Data Sheet
Think-Cell’s data sheet accepts both raw numbers and Excel formulas for dynamic calculations

It’s also very simple to edit your charts. For example, you can resize the chart by dragging the edges of the chart to the desired size. And you can rotate the chart by selecting the rotation handle at the top of the chart and dragging it to the desired angle.

Think-Cell also gives you a lot of control over the style of your chart. When you left-click on any element within the chart, a floating toolbar will appear with the styling and customization options available for that element.

Compared to other PowerPoint charting add-ons, Think-Cell excels by giving you precise control over how data is presented in the chart. For example, you can easily change the order of chart categories or segments without editing the underlying data.

Chart decorations

One of the things that make presentations by consulting firms so powerful is their use of chart decorations. And Think-Cell has the largest range of chart decorations of any PowerPoint charting plugin.

Accessing chart decorations is very easy, simply right-click anywhere on the chart and a circular list of icons will appear. These are all the chart decorations available for your chart type.

Think-Cell Chart Decoration Menu
Think-Cell includes chart decorations, including CAGR arrows, difference arrows and value lines.

As a Think-Cell user who builds corporate and consulting-style slide decks, you’ll most commonly be using CAGRs, difference arrows, value lines, axis breaks, and cross-chart connectors.

Think-Cell Styling and Customization
Think-Cell gives you control of how data is displayed without editing the source data

One of the great things about Think-Cell is that they automatically calculate key metrics for you. For example, if you add a CAGR arrow to your chart, it will calculate the CAGR automatically based on the values and number of periods in the chart. If you adjust the range of the CAGR arrow, the calculation updates automatically.

Layouts and other elements

As a consultant, you’re often required to update existing slides as new data comes along or when your manager has a change of heart about how the slide should look.

This is a tedious process using PowerPoint. You need to manually adjust the size of the shapes or other elements that you’re using on the slide, re-align them, and then often change the font size to fit into the new layout.

Using Think-Cell, you can create complex layouts which will automatically re-arrange and re-align as you add or remove elements. For example, you can add an additional column to a slide layout and all the other columns resize automatically.

Think-Cell Layouts
Think-Cell auto-layouts introduces custom anchors and snapping, which can be tricky to understand but powerful once you master them

That being said, Think-Cell’s implementation of auto-layouts is not particularly intuitive. It takes quite a bit of time to become really competent in building slides using this feature. Plus, there are some limitations on what types of spacing you can have in your layout.

But if you’re comfortable giving up a little control over the “pixel perfectness” of your layouts and are willing to put in the effort to learn, then Think-Cell’s layout feature is a great way to build slide layouts that are simple to update.

Excel integration and automation

There’s nothing worse than repeatedly copying and pasting data from Excel to PowerPoint as you update multiple charts. Fortunately, Think-Cell is integrated with Excel.

This means that you can connect your Think-Cell charts in PowerPoint to data that lives in Excel. As the Excel data changes, the Think-Cell charts are automatically updated.

Unlike other solutions, it is very difficult to accidentally “break” this data link. If you rename the files, the data link remains. If you copy the paste the charts somewhere else, the data link remains. If you email the files to somebody else, when they open the files the data link remains.

Compatibility

Even though you might use Think-Cell, you cannot assume that your partners or clients will. So it’s important that any charts or other elements that are built in Think-Cell do not break for people without the plugin.

For users without Think-Cell, all Think-Cell charts and other elements will natively fallback to PowerPoint native charts and shapes. The best part? They maintain the styling and chart decorations that were created in Think-Cell (e.g. CAGR arrows).

 

Think-Cell Logo

Summary of Think-Cell

What we like

  • Easy-to-use: Think-Cell integrates well with PowerPoint and the UX is highly intuitive, so it doesn’t take long to master.
  • Breath of charts and decorations: Think-Cell includes a broad range of different chart types (e.g. waterfall charts, Mekko charts and Gantt charts) and chart decorations (e.g. CAGR arrows, difference arrows, and value lines).
  • Integrations: Think-Cell’s Excel integration is simple and robust, and there are no issues with Excel links breaking or not updating. Plus, they also have a built-in Tableau integration.
  • Compatibility: Think-Cell charts gracefully convert to native PowerPoint charts and shapes for anybody that doesn’t have the add-on installed.

What we dislike

  • Control over slide layouts: The auto-layout feature is a great way to build and update slides quickly, but you give up some control over the slide’s style and it can take quite a while to master.
  • Price and licensing: Think-Cell is positioned for companies, not individuals, so you must purchase a minimum of 5 licenses.

Bottom line

Slide Science rating: (4.5)

After using Think-Cell for over 500 hours, we think that Think-Cell is the most powerful charting add-on for PowerPoint. Compared to other solutions, it has the simplest user interface, the widest range of chart options, and the most robust Excel integration.

$18 USD / month from think-cell.com*

*Estimate only: paid annually in EUR, minimum 5 licenses, currency converted on 4/6/2022

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