Sparklines

Learning Objectives

  • Create sparklines.

Now that you have seen the value of data visualization in charts, we can address a much simpler and compact visualization: a sparkline. Sparklines are small graphs that are created to offer simple visual clues about the data graphed. Basically, they are tiny charts inside a single cell.

There are three types of sparklines:

  1. Line: visualizes the data in a line graph form
  2. Column: visualizes the data in column form, similar to the clustered column chart
  3. Win/Loss: visualizes the data as positive or negative based on color
There are three sparklines options shown. On the left side the line option is shown, in the middle the column icon is shown, and on the right the win/loss icon is displayed.

The best use of a sparkline is to place it close to the data you are visualizing. You may be wonder what use a sparkline is since you know how to create a chart. Well, the great thing about sparklines is they automatically print when you print a worksheet. Charts do not print when you print a worksheet; they must be separately printed or moved to another program like Word or PowerPoint.

Sparklines are also great in that they automatically update if you change the data they display.

Practice Question

To create your own sparklines, follow the steps below.

  1. Click on the cell where you want your sparkline to appear.
  2. Click on the Insert tab and find the Sparklines group. Select the type of sparkline you want to create.
An excel sheet with data entered in columns A and B through row 13. In cell B14 there is a green 1 showing that this cell has been selected as the place where the sparkline will be inserted. In the ribbon there is an orange box showing where to find the sparklines.
  1. A new data box will appear. This is where you will enter the range of cells to be graphed by your sparkline.
A create sparklines dialog box is open.
  1. Hit Enter.
An excel sheet with data entered in columns A and B through row 13. There is a green arrow pointing to cell B14 where a line sparkline has been entered.

Note that like any other chart, you can change the display options of a sparkline, including colors and style, after you have created it. To change a sparkline, you will need to access the Design tab that appears under Sparkline Tools once you have created a sparkline. This tab will only appear if you have selected the cell with your sparkline in it.

An excel sheet with data entered in columns A and B through row 13. There is a green arrow pointing to cell B14 where a line sparkline has been entered. The entire design tab in the ribbon menu has been covered by a green box,highlighting the different design options.

Practice Question

Check Your Understanding

Answer the question(s) below to see how well you understand the topics covered in the previous section. This short quiz does not count toward your grade in the class, and you can retake it an unlimited number of times.

Use this quiz to check your understanding and decide whether to (1) study the previous section further or (2) move on to the next section.