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One More Sparkline Trick

In this blog post I’ll walk through one more interesting way you can use sparklines in Excel 2010.

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In the above example we have the sales for each book category and for each store.  While you can’t see the exact numbers in this view, you can get the feel for which sections sell well at the different stores.  Let’s see how this is made with sparklines in Excel:

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There are actually 24 sparklines in the picture above; each one is bound to a single data point in a similar table with the numbers.  You can create this in one swoop with the Insert Sparkline dialog by selecting the rectangle of cells for the location, and then select all of the sales numbers as the data source.  This isn’t really an intended use for sparklines since each one only has a single data point, but it’s an interesting visual that could be useful with some more context in a report or dashboard.

Whenever I see a visual like this, it reminds me of a video game that uses a similar visual to display the demand for zoning, something like:

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This wraps up my series of posts on sparklines.  In my next Excel 2010 post I’ll continue on the theme of data visualization improvements by discussing some things we did with conditional formatting.