This is what it looks like in Excel
Tricks for creating the chart in Excel
The Time in office chart for all popes got many comments at The Economist's website. The gist of many comments was that there was just too much information to be displayed in a satisfactorily manner. We toyed around with the chart a bit to enhance it but gave up initially. The problem we struggled with is that there are simply too many popes (and hence: columns) to be shown as a picture on a website. Pretty soon, pixels start disappearing and everything becomes a bit of a blur (see this Excel workbook if you're interested in our not-so-successful attempt).
Inspiration came over lunch today. We think we found an acceptable and somewhat appealing way to condense the information so that it can be shown as a chart. For once we're not elaborating on how we did it, just look at the Excel workbook if you want to know: it's all rather straightforward if you can follow how we rearranged the data.
Our assessment of the difficulty of the chart: 8½ (out of 10)
Usefulness of the chart for other purposes: 4 (out of 10)
Time it took us to create the chart: Outside competition (but way too long, frankly)