Excel 2010, among other innovations, comes with a tool called Sparklines. It is a tool that can create a small chart in a worksheet cell showing the trend of selected numbers, eg. the income gains over time. How this instrument is inserted into the worksheet and what can be set inside, you will learn in this article. If this guide has helped you, become a fan on Facebook and recommend this site to your friends, it can be useful for them too.

Imagine a situation where we need to see the results of our economic activity in graphical form. In addition to standard charts that can be created in Excel, we can use in the 2010 version the tool so-called Sparklines. The difference between common chart and Sparkline is is that the Sparklines are included in the cells and not the objects lying in the independent layer. They can be even copied the same way as a formula. Furthermore, it has not many settings, but on the other hand, it is useful for getting quick graphic information.

To create a Sparkline you need .xlsx file and the version of Excel 2010 or newer. Consider the numbers expressing revenues from products sold within a few months. Besides the overall results we might also be interested in the trend of these values, so that in future periods we can better adapt our business decisions. To insert a Sparkline, go via the Insert tab > Sparklines. We can choose from 3 types:

  • line (suitable for expression of the trend line)
  • column
  • win/los (expresses different positive and negative values)

After selecting the type we select the source data and in what area we want to insert it. It is possible to create a whole group of Sparklines, as shown in the figure below.

Excel 2010 sparklines

After creating it activates Tools contextual tab Sparklines – Design for further adjustments. Attention, this tab is displayed only when we stand with a mouse in a cell with a Sparkline. In addition to the graphical changes (color), it can be suitably used also to highlight the highest, lowest, first and last point. For the type of win / loss and we can display axis between positive and negative values.

Sparklines are automatically updated at the moment of values change of the cells as well as in the common chart. In practice, the Sparklines are inserted near the source cells to have numbers near in case of irregularities. To optionally hide the source cells there is also the option to hide columns or rows, or group, as shown in our image.

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