How to Represent Trends with Sparklines
Sparklines are very small charts that fit within a line of text or a single cell of a spreadsheet. They’re a great way to give your data some context without taking up half the page with various bulky charts. As they are so small, they are typically drawn without axes or coordinates, but rather present the general shape of a trend over time in a simple and highly condensed way.
You can quickly see the relationship between a sparkline and the data it is referring to, and if you make alterations to your data then these alterations will take effect in your sparkline as soon as you make them. You’re able to create multiple sparklines at the same time by selecting a range of cells that correspond to your data and also create sparklines for rows of data that you add later by using the fill handle in an adjacent cell that contains a sparkline.
Three sparkline types are built into Excel:
- Line, which is an actual sparkline
- Column—a tiny version of the column chart covered in the module Creating Simple Charts;
- Win/Loss, which is similar to a column but just shows whether the value is positive, zero or negative—not how big it is.
HOW TO USE SPARKLINES
- Select a blank cell next to or very near the data you want to display as a sparkline.
- From the INSERT ribbon tab, Sparklines group, select the desired sparkline type.
- In the Data Range box, enter the range of cells containing the data you want to display and press OK. The sparkline appears in the cell.
Using the example of homes sold from our Advanced Charts module, you can see we’ve added sparklines to each row of data to illustrate the number of homes sold and the average price. This helps us quickly visualise the trends for each data series