Excel 2010 – Sparklines

Graph is an effective way to present large amount of data.  However, data driven graph can also be quite large in older versions of Microsoft Excel, so it is not easy to post multiple graphs on 1 single piece of paper.  Microsoft Excel 2010 has implemented Sparklines to solve this problem. Sparklines is "intense, simple, word-sized graphics", its inventor Edward Tufte describes them in his book Beautiful Evidence.

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You can see from the above example, the current sales number plus sparklines that indicated 1 year trend of the sales pattern.  Each sparkline takes up a cell and it is not floating on the grid like chart does.  It does not give you details number but it adds context and meaning to the number next to it. Below you can find a few more examples on how sparklines can present extra information. altalt

Creating sparklines is quite easy.  First, you insert a new column where you want to place your sparklines.

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And then you go to the insert tab on the ribbon and choose the type of Sparklines that you want to inset into your column. alt

You define the Data Range and Location Range in the Create Sparklines dialogue and click OK button.

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Now, you have your first sparklines.

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You can format you sparklines, e.g. highlight the high and low points on the sparklines.  When you select the sparklines, you would see a sparkline contextual tab in the ribbon.

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You can highlight high / low points by specifying their color.

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Your sparklines would then have the new format.

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Isn’t it easy?  You can download a copy of Microsoft Office 2010 Beta and starting experiencing all the new features including Sparklines.

Andrew Chan is the owner and founder of ALG Inc.

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