Visualise Trends Using A New Feature Of Microsoft Excel 2010
Whilst looking around Microsoft Excel 2010 you may notice a new charting function called Sparklines which is a useful new data trending visualisation tool – one of a number of new visualisation tools available in the latest version of Excel.
The beauty of Sparklines are that they give more immediate impact to information and can help visually identify trends even quicker before.
In their simplest form Sparklines could be considered as cell based mini charts which can be formatted in a variety of ways including Line, Column, Win/Loss charts. Each Sparkline can be further manipulated to format colour, style, axis, and data markers.
To get a Sparkline into your Microsoft Excel worksheet just head to the ribbon bar, then click on Insert and choose your Sparkline, either Line, Column or Win/Loss.
A dialog box will appear asking you to identify the Data Range for the source information and the Location Range where you want the Sparkline to appear. Once you have put the information in – just click on OK.
Once you have your Sparkline in place, you can refine it further by heading to the ribbon bar again and selecting “Sparkline Tools” – for example you could make the total column show a line chart to give an immediate visualisation of the overall trend.
As an example of what you can do with Sparklines, take a typical Sales Analysis summary, displayed by territory and quarter. Without the Sparklines it’s just a big list of numbers that takes some real effort to decipher – however add the Sparklines in a trend column and you can immediately see the big picture, for example Sales were a bit flat in London in Q2 and Q3, there is big growth in Sheffield whilst Manchester seems to be falling. The overall sales picture is fairly consistent let down only by a low Q2 sales period.
Hopefully this outline has given a little insight into the potential of the new Sparklines feature available in Microsoft Excel 2010.