Sparklines Group properties

A Sparkline is a very small line chart, typically drawn without axes or coordinates. It presents the general shape of the variation (typically over time) in some measurement, such as temperature or stock market price, in a simple and highly condensed way. Sparklines are small enough to be embedded in text, or several sparklines may be grouped together as elements of a small multiple.

Types of sparklines

There are three different types of sparklines: Line, Column, and Win/Loss. Line and Column work the same as line and column charts. Win/Loss is similar to Column, except it only shows whether each value is positive or negative instead of how high or low the values are. All three types can display markers at important points, such as the highest and lowest points, to make them easier to read.


Why use sparklines?

Sparklines have certain advantages over charts. For example, imagine you have 1000 rows of data. A traditional chart would have 1000 data series to represent all of the rows, making relevant data difficult to find. But if you placed a sparkline on each row, it will be right next to its source data, making it easy to see relationships and trends for multiple data series at the same time.

Sparklines are ideal for situations when you need a clear overview of the data at a glance and when you don’t need all of the features of a full chart. On the other hand, charts are ideal for situations when you want to represent the data in greater detail, and they are often better for comparing different data series.


Create a sparkline

Select an empty cell or group of empty cells in which you want to insert one or more sparklines. On the Insert tab, in the Sparklines group, click the type of sparkline that you want to create: Line, Column, or Win/Loss. In the Data box, type the range of the cells that contain the data on which you want to base the sparklines.

Note: You can click (  ) to temporarily collapse the dialog box, select the range of cells that you want on the worksheet, and then click (  )to restore the dialog box to its normal size.


Customize sparklines

After you create sparklines, you can control which value points are shown (such as the high, low, first, last, or any negative values), change the type of the sparkline (Line, Column, or Win/Loss), apply styles from a gallery or set individual formatting options, set options on the vertical axis, and control how empty or zero values are shown in the sparkline.

Control which value points are shown

You can highlight individual data markers (values) in a line sparkline by making some or all of the markers visible.

In this sparkline, the high value marker is green, and the low value marker is orange. All other markers are shown in black.

  • To show all values, select the Markers check box.
  • To show negative values, select the Negative Points check box.
  • To show the highest or the lowest values, select the High Point or Low Point check boxes.
  • To show the first or the last values, select the First Point or Last Point check boxes.
Change the style of or format sparklinesUse the Style gallery on Design tab, which becomes available when you select a cell that contains a sparkline.

  1. Select a single sparkline or a sparkline group.
  2. To apply a predefined style, on the Design tab, in the Style group, click a style or click the arrow at the lower right corner of the box to see additional styles.

3. To apply specific formatting to a sparkline, use the Sparkline Color or the Marker Color commands.

Show or hide data markers

On a sparkline that has the Line style, you can show data markers so that you can highlight individual values.

    1. Select a sparkline.
    2. In the Show/Hide group, on the Design tab, select any of the check boxes to show individual markers (such as high, low, negative, first, or last), or select the Markers check box to show all markers.Clearing a check box hides the specified marker or markers.
    Show and customize axis settingsYou can select Date Axis Type (in the Group group, click Axis) to format the shape of the chart in a sparkline to reflect any irregular time periods in the underlying data.

    In a line sparkline, applying the Date Axis type can change the slope of a plotted line and the position of its data points in relation to each other.

    In a column sparkline, applying the Data Axis type can change the width of and increase or decrease the distance between the columns, as shown in the following image.

    In the example shown here, there are two column sparklines that use data from the same range. The sparkline with the “Trend” label uses the General Axis type, and the sparkline with the “Trend (Data Axis Type)” label uses the Date Axis type. In each sparkline, the first two data points are separated by two months, and the second and third are separated by seven months. By applying the Date Axis type, the space between the three columns changes proportionally to reflect the irregular time periods.

    You can also use these Axis options to set minimum and maximum values for the vertical axis of a sparkline or sparkline group. Setting these values explicitly helps you control the scale so that the relationship between values is shown in a more meaningful way.

    1. With the sparkline or sparkline group selected, in the Group group, click Axis.
    2. Under Vertical Axis Minimum Value Options or Vertical Axis Maximum Value Options, click Custom Value.
    3. Set minimum or maximum values that you feel will best emphasize the values in the sparklines.

    You can increase the height of the row that contains the sparkline to more dramatically emphasize the difference in data values if some is very small and some is very large.

    You can also use the Plot Data Right-to-Left option to change the direction in which data is plotted in a sparkline or sparkline group.

    If there are negative values in your data, you can emphasize this by showing a horizontal axis in your sparkline.

    1. With the sparkline or sparkline group selected, in the Group group, click Axis.
    2. Under Horizontal Axis Options, click Show Axis.
      Any sparklines that contain negative data will display a horizontal axis at 0.

    Handle empty cells or zero values

    You can control how a sparkline handles empty cells in a range (and thus how the sparkline is displayed) by using the Hidden and Empty Cell Settings dialog box.

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