Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
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Summarizing your data by using sparklines
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Summarizing your data by using sparklines
You can create charts in Excel workbooks to summarize your data visually by using legends,
labels, and colors to highlight aspects of your data. It is possible to create very small charts
to summarize your data in an overview worksheet, but you can also use sparklines to create
compact, informative charts that provide valuable context for your data.
Edward Tufte introduced sparklines in his book Beautiful Evidence (Graphics Press, 2006),
with the goal of creating charts that imparted their information in approximately the same
space as a word of printed text. In Excel, a sparkline occupies a single cell, which makes it
ideal for use in summary worksheets. As an example, suppose Lori Penor wanted to
summarize the monthly revenue data for one of Consolidated Messenger’s local branches.
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Lori can create three types of sparklines: line, column, and win/loss. The line and column
sparklines are compact versions of the standard line and column charts. The win/loss
sparkline indicates whether a cell value is positive (a win), negative (a loss), or zero (a tie). To
create a line sparkline, you select the data you want to summarize and then, on the Insert
tab, in the Sparklines group, click the Line button. When you do, Excel displays the Create
Sparklines dialog box.
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