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Sparkline charts are great, but there may be times they need a little visual massaging to maximize their usefulness. Consider this scenario: You have a system for which you want to track downtime over the course of a year and (fortunately) it had downtime events in only four of twelve months. Here's the data:
Below the data, I created this column sparkline.
That's fine, but it doesn't highlight the fact that there were no events in January and February, and also none from June through November. This is because there's no date axis. I can remedy this by setting a sparkline option for the horizontal (or x-) axis by selecting the Date Axis Type option. Here's the option in Excel (just make sure your sparkline is selected):
I select Date Axis Type and in the Sparkline Date Range dialog box that appears, I make sure to select the cells that contain the dates (not the data itself). Now, you can see the sparkline shows the empty space that reflects the missing months:
But I'd like to do a couple more things: I want the sparkline bigger, stretching across the four columns of data, and I also want labels for my horizontal axis below the sparkline columns.
I do this by selecting the cell containing the sparkline cell and then selecting the next three cells to the right along with it. I'll use the Merge Across command to stretch the sparkline out over B3:E3. Now it looks like this:
Finally, I'll add text labels for Mar, Apr, May, and Dec under the sparkline. I type "Mar Apr May" (separated by spaces) in cell B4, which is under the three sparkline columns, and use the Merge Across command to merge that cell with C4. I'll type "Dec" in cell E4, under the last sparkline column. I'll make their font bold and smaller (I used 8 pt), and then fine-tune the text in the cell by adding or removing spaces between Mar, Apr, and May until they line up nicely under the three sparkline columns. There!
To learn more about sparklines, see Use sparklines to show data trends. Look for additional blog posts about sparklines here by using the keyword "sparklines." And check out the blog post on our eight best tutorials on Excel charts.
Combining Chart Types, Adding a Second Axis Create a chart from start to finishFree training: Take the next steps in growing your Excel skills (Lesson 2) Go beyond the basic chart type Can't find the Chart Wizard? No worries Use sparklines to show data trendsLine or scatter chart?
in excel2010 graph dragging is not working. graph made in excel old version?
Hi, Nippy -- note that I did not make this sparkline wider by dragging the fill handle in its cell -- if I did that, Excel would actually create an individual sparkline for each cell based on its position in relation to the data for the original sparkline. That is, Excel would assume I wanted a data range for each new sparkline based on the three cells to its right. So a new sparkline would be created in C3 with three data points, in D3 with two data points, and a sparkline in E3 would have one data point.
Instead, what I did here was to select the sparkline cell (B3) and then select the three cells to its right with the mouse (or by holding down the SHIFT key and pressing the right arrow key three times). Then, I used the Merge Cells command on the Home tab to merge the cell that contains the sparkline (B3) with cells C3, D3, and E3.
Using the Merge Cells command may give the same visual effect as dragging the lower-right corner of a graph object, but a graph is quite different from a sparkline. Hope this clears things up.