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October 24, 2011

One of the cool new graphing features added in Excel 2010 is Sparklines. A Sparkline is a small, high density graph that is meant to present information in a condensed way. They are quicker and smaller than a full graph, because they don’t show any visible X and Y axes, nor do they provide as much detail as a normal graph. But, because there are no lines or labels, etc., you can easily fit Sparklines into small spaces – like a cell on a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, for example.

There are three different types of Sparklines; line, column and win/loss. Line and column are like their bigger, more robust brothers. The line chart makes a graph of each data point and then draws lines between them, and the column chart makes each data point an appropriately sized column. The win/loss option is a bit different, however; it presents information as a binary “up” or “down” box.

Sparklines are simple to insert. You only need to click the appropriate Sparklines button in the insert tab and then select the data you want to graph. Everything else is handled for you automatically. You can click on the Sparkline and select the Sparkline Tools tab at the top to make some adjustments to color, etc.

(The only downside that I have found about this type of graph is that it does not copy over into other Office documents. You can, however, use the PrtScr button on your keyboard and copy, paste and crop a picture of the screen.)

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