Sparklines: Who’s really shining?

Analyzing the data contained in an Excel spreadsheet can be overwhelming at times. A quick glance at the sales figures for the past month or quarter can tell you where a division is currenlty but doesn’t provide any information about whether that division is trending up or down. New to Excel 2010 are “Sparklines”, mini charts which are inserted directly in cells, to provide that additional information.

Adding a sparkline to a table of data is similar to adding a chart to a worksheet. Select the Insert tab on the ribbon, specify the type of sparkline (Line, Column or Win/Loss) that you want and specify the data range.
Looking at the following table would lead you to conclude that Boston is the best performing group in the company.

Adding sparklines to the table shows that while Boston has the highest revenue it was the result of a single month’s performance. However, Miami is demonstrating a steadier upward growth pattern over the past six periods while Boston appears to be trending downward.