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Creating in-cell charts with sparklines

From: Excel 2013 Essential Training

Video: Creating in-cell charts with sparklines

If you're interested in creating a quick visual representation of data without creating a full-fledged chart, you want to be looking at Excel's feature called Sparklines. We've got some data here in columns D through P. If we select data like this, as we often do in Excel, we do see the Quick Analysis button pop-up. Let's click it and there's the choice called Sparklines. There are three kinds of Sparklines. Actually, one is a Line, and we see the preview already or Column or Win/Loss, which in this case we will not use, possibly Column or Line, so just click Line.

Creating in-cell charts with sparklines

If you're interested in creating a quick visual representation of data without creating a full-fledged chart, you want to be looking at Excel's feature called Sparklines. We've got some data here in columns D through P. If we select data like this, as we often do in Excel, we do see the Quick Analysis button pop-up. Let's click it and there's the choice called Sparklines. There are three kinds of Sparklines. Actually, one is a Line, and we see the preview already or Column or Win/Loss, which in this case we will not use, possibly Column or Line, so just click Line.

What do we have here? That's a depiction of what's happened over these 12 months. When these are selected, we have a Sparkline Tools ribbon and a Design Tab, and so we might want to make some quick changes here. Nothing wrong with that really, but maybe this will look better if we change the Sparkline Color possibly even the Weight, meaning the width of this. So now maybe that's a bit more prominent. So we get a quick read on the data here. In this case too, it might make more sense if we use our Zoom slider bar, zoom in a bit to see what's happening there.

Now, to enhance this, you might also want to consider on the Design Tab, showing just the High Point or the High Points and the Low Points, maybe all the points, the term is Markers like that, looking a bit crowded. That might look a little better, if we go back to Sparkline Color and perhaps change the Weight of this to be a little bit thinner, looks a bit better that way. So we can quickly see what's going on during this particular set of data here. Another option which we saw briefly, and we can get to it on the Design Tab here, is to change this to be a column and that might make sense too.

We do have the High and Low Points selected, maybe not as necessary now, but that too gives us a reasonable visual depiction of the data. Now, at certain times, the data you're selecting doesn't automatically fit into the quick analysis ability to create Sparklines. So suppose for example, we wanted a Sparkline here to show what's been happening. Now, here, the data is oriented vertically. If you choose the box here and go to Sparklines, the choice here comes up to be nothing. It tries to put the data on the right, so let's not do that.

We've got our data selected, then we can go to the Insert tab and choose Sparklines, this time we use a Line as well. Let's start with Line. It asks us, where do we want this to be? We've selected the data that's the source, where do we want the Sparklines to be placed? We'll click in cell B13. click OK and there it is. Organized differently and perhaps not as commonly seen this way as we saw over here, but nevertheless, that's a reasonable visual depiction of what's happened to these numbers over this nine-month period, and here too, you might want to consider making that thicker.

Now, we've got some other data off to the right here and this has negatives in it, so let's consider putting in Sparklines here; but this time, let's explore by way of Insert and Sparklines, possibly Win/Loss because we've got negatives in the entry here. How might this look? Here, somewhat differently than the previous example, I selected the area where the lines are going first, so that's already selected, but now it's asking me where is the source of the data? So clicking in the upper panel, then selecting these cells right here and then clicking OK gives us this look.

The red, of course, represents the negatives as we see them here. Depending upon the nature of the data, these might be a better choice. By the way, if you make the column wider, it's easier to read perhaps, but we always have that right when we're doing these to consider how this might look as a Column or as a Line. Now, here's something you want to be a little bit careful with, the idea that you can change the meaning of this--not by changing the values, that would be completely unfair and perhaps illegal--but look what happens here if we make this column wider.

It tends to flatten out the changes that we're seeing. We could also go back to column Q, by the way, try it over there, it's going to have greater implications over there for that previous set of data we were using. Let's change this by way of the Design Tab to Lines, and then possibly make this wider; and that gives us a completely different picture--as I press Ctrl+Z-- as to what we saw here. Here's another possible option, although less likely. If I select rows 4 through 7 and make them taller, watch those lines change, and that certainly accentuates the idea that there's been a lot of change through this period.

So making columns wider or narrower and rows taller or shorter, does change the impact of what we're showing here with these Sparklines--so think out those issues a bit. I'm going to press Ctrl+Z here a few times to return these to the previous display. Let's go back to these again too. The idea here with these pluses and minuses, if we are choosing Lines and that certainly is an option, we might also want to consider on the Design tab here, choosing Axis.

If we show the axis, that accentuates the idea that we have crossed the "zero boundary". So, we don't necessarily have to use the markers. We can certainly do that or the negative points. Use the markers maybe or maybe not, but we do see where the data falls below the line. The idea here is, with Sparklines, we want to get a quick, good, visual depiction of the data in question without necessarily showing a large chart and this gives us more freedom within a worksheet here, to show other sets of data as well. With this data here, it may or may not make sense, but you might consider putting Sparklines below the data.

Now here Lines perhaps wouldn't be as good, but we can check this out and decide. After selecting the data here, Insert Tab, Lines and the Source Data--the Data Range, this data right here--and OK. Now, we see a depiction of each one of these. So what we're seeing here of course is reflected right here. The difference here is, and this could be considered actually better, showing line charts across different regions, as if they were somehow connected, in a certain sense is misleading, but showing lines here--and in each case it's about years from 2008 through 2012--perhaps this is a better use of the idea that the data flows from year to year.

So even though we're not seeing any indicator on these actual Sparklines as to what the various points mean the points here mean different year entries for Northeast and Northwest and the other regions as we click across here. But the lines here, I don't think you'd really want to connect them, so I think you can make a strong case for saying, "Lines are not the best choice here, maybe columns are better". So you can see the variations here and the idea behind Sparklines, a quick visual representation of data in a single cell.

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This video is part of

Image for Excel 2013 Essential Training
Excel 2013 Essential Training

82 video lessons · 69885 viewers

Dennis Taylor
Author

 
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  1. 1m 6s
    1. Welcome
      43s
    2. Using the exercise files
      23s
  2. 29m 37s
    1. What is Excel used for?
      1m 49s
    2. Using the menu system
      4m 30s
    3. The Quick Access Toolbar
      4m 41s
    4. The structure of a worksheet or workbook
      3m 41s
    5. Using the Formula bar
      1m 43s
    6. Using the Status bar
      2m 24s
    7. Navigation and mouse pointers
      2m 20s
    8. Shortcut menus and the Mini toolbar
      3m 24s
    9. Using the built-in help
      2m 54s
    10. Creating new files
      2m 11s
  3. 24m 1s
    1. Exploring data entry and editing techniques
      4m 41s
    2. Entering data with AutoFill
      4m 6s
    3. Working with dates and times
      3m 32s
    4. Using Undo and Redo
      4m 50s
    5. Adding comments
      2m 55s
    6. Using Save or Save As
      3m 57s
  4. 30m 7s
    1. Creating simple formulas: Totals and averages
      5m 25s
    2. Copying a formula for adjacent cells
      2m 54s
    3. Calculating year-to-date profits
      3m 9s
    4. Creating a percentage-increase formula
      4m 7s
    5. Working with relative, absolute, and mixed references
      4m 7s
    6. Using SUM and AVERAGE
      3m 25s
    7. Using other common functions
      7m 0s
  5. 46m 7s
    1. Exploring font styles and effects
      4m 7s
    2. Adjusting row heights and column widths
      3m 37s
    3. Working with alignment and Wrap Text
      4m 2s
    4. Designing borders
      3m 26s
    5. Exploring numeric and special formatting
      5m 36s
    6. Formatting numbers and dates
      4m 31s
    7. Conditional formatting
      4m 21s
    8. Creating and using tables
      9m 59s
    9. Inserting shapes, arrows, and other visual features
      6m 28s
  6. 20m 40s
    1. Inserting and deleting rows and columns
      4m 52s
    2. Hiding and unhiding rows and columns
      4m 2s
    3. Moving, copying, and inserting data
      5m 42s
    4. Finding and replacing data
      6m 4s
  7. 17m 51s
    1. Exploring the Page Layout tab and view
      7m 20s
    2. Previewing page breaks
      4m 56s
    3. Working with Page Setup and printing controls
      5m 35s
  8. 30m 30s
    1. Creating charts
      4m 36s
    2. Exploring chart types
      7m 47s
    3. Formatting charts
      5m 42s
    4. Working with axes, labels, gridlines, and other chart elements
      5m 35s
    5. Creating in-cell charts with sparklines
      6m 50s
  9. 12m 49s
    1. Freezing and unfreezing panes
      2m 39s
    2. Splitting screens horizontally and vertically
      4m 48s
    3. Showing necessary information with the Outlining feature
      5m 22s
  10. 23m 0s
    1. Displaying multiple worksheets and workbooks
      4m 17s
    2. Renaming, inserting, and deleting sheets
      2m 23s
    3. Moving, copying, and grouping sheets
      3m 39s
    4. Using formulas to link worksheets and workbooks
      6m 1s
    5. Locating and maintaining links
      6m 40s
  11. 20m 25s
    1. Using IF functions and relational operators
      3m 43s
    2. Getting approximate table data with the VLOOKUP function
      7m 6s
    3. Getting exact table data with the VLOOKUP function
      4m 42s
    4. Using the COUNTIF family of functions
      4m 54s
  12. 23m 50s
    1. Unlocking cells and protecting worksheets
      7m 50s
    2. Protecting workbooks
      2m 40s
    3. Assigning passwords to workbooks
      4m 41s
    4. Sharing workbooks
      4m 7s
    5. Tracking changes
      4m 32s
  13. 28m 32s
    1. Sorting data
      6m 9s
    2. Inserting subtotals in a sorted list
      8m 25s
    3. Using filters
      6m 16s
    4. Splitting data into multiple columns
      5m 4s
    5. Removing duplicate records
      2m 38s
  14. 35m 2s
    1. Creating PivotTables
      8m 36s
    2. Manipulating PivotTable data
      9m 47s
    3. Grouping by date and time
      6m 0s
    4. Grouping by other factors
      2m 33s
    5. Using slicers to clarify and manipulate fields
      4m 7s
    6. Using PivotCharts
      3m 59s
  15. 23m 29s
    1. Using Goal Seek
      6m 8s
    2. Using Solver
      6m 34s
    3. Using Scenario Manager
      6m 11s
    4. Using Data Tables
      4m 36s
  16. 24m 31s
    1. Definition and examples
      6m 48s
    2. Creating a simple macro
      7m 0s
    3. Running a macro
      10m 43s
  17. 29s
    1. Next steps
      29s

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