How to Create Sparklines in Your Excel Dashboards - dummies

How to Create Sparklines in Your Excel Dashboards

By Michael Alexander

Sparklines in Excel enable you to see trends and patterns within your data at a glance using minimal real estate on your dashboard. Sparklines are essentially mini word-sized charts placed in and among the textual data in tables.

This figure shows some weather data that you can summarize with sparklines. You can create sparkline graphics for the values in these nine rows.

1Select the data range that you want to summarize. In this example, select B4:M12.

If you are creating multiple sparklines, select all the data.

2With the data selected, click the Insert tab on the Ribbon and find the Sparklines group. There, select any one of the three sparkline types: Line, Column, or Win/Loss. In this case, select the Column option.

Excel displays the Create Sparklines dialog box, as shown in the figure.

3Specify the data range and the location for the sparklines. For this example, specify N4:N12 as the Location Range.

Typically, you’ll put the sparklines next to the data, but that’s not required. Most of the time, you’ll use an empty range to hold the sparklines. However, Excel does not prevent you from inserting sparklines into filled-in cells. The sparkline location that you specify must match the source data in terms of number of rows or number of columns.

4Click OK.

Excel creates the sparklines graphics of the type you specified, as shown in the figure. Column sparklines summarize the precipitation data for nine cities.

The sparklines are linked to the data, so if you change any of the values in the data range, the sparkline graphic will update.

Most of the time, you’ll create sparklines on the same sheet that contains the data. If you want to create sparklines on a different sheet, start by activating the sheet where the sparklines will be displayed. Then, in the Create Sparklines dialog box, specify the source data either by selecting the cell range or by typing the complete sheet reference (for example, Sheet1!A1:C12).

The Create Sparklines dialog box lets you specify a different sheet for the Data Range, but not for the Location Range.