Use Sparklines to Display Trends Visually

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated October 24, 2014

Applies to: Microsoft Excel 2010 and 2013

This article is the first in a series of simple ways to show trends in your Excel data. In Excel 2010 and later versions, you can use Sparklines to display trends in your data visually on the worksheet. Sparklines are miniature charts that you can display in cells, usually immediately to the right of the data you wish to summarize.

Related articles: Simple Strategies to Show Trends in Excel (Part 2) and (Part 3)

Inserting Sparklines

To insert a Sparkline:

  1. Set up a worksheet with a least 3 columns of data. The data should be adjacent to each other (no blank columns or rows) and be the same size (in terms of the height of the range).
  2. Select the cells where you wish to display Sparklines. The cells should be in one column and are usually immediately to the right of the data you wish to summarize. Be sure to select the same size (height) as the source data.
  3. Click the Insert tab in the Ribbon.
  4. In the Sparkline group, click the Line button. A dialog box appears.
  5. Click in the Data Range box and select or enter the range of data you wish to summarize. The range you originally selected should appear in the Location Range.
  6. Click OK or press Enter.

Sparklines dialog box.

Let’s try an example. In the following worksheet, data has been entered in cells B2 to D5.

Worksheet with sample data for months without sparklines.

I would like to create Sparklines in cells F2 to F5 (note that the height of the ranges are consistent).

To create Sparklines:

  1. Select cells F2 to F5.
  2. Click the Insert tab in the Ribbon.
  3. In the Sparkline group, click the Line button. A dialog box appears.
  4. Click in the Data Range box and select or enter the range of data you wish to summarize (B2:D5). The range you originally selected should appear in the Location Range.
  5. Click OK or press Enter.

Sample worksheet with data by month with sparklines showing trends.

Formatting Sparklines

To format Sparklines:

  1. Click in any cell with a Sparkline (the entire range should appear with a blue border).
  2. Click the Sparkline Tools Design tab.
  3. Select the formatting element you want to change. You can highlight data points such as high, low or negative, choose a color scheme, select line and marker colors or change the type of Sparkline.

Clearing Sparklines

To clear Sparklines:

  1. Click in any cell with a Sparkline (the entire range should appear with a blue border).
  2. Click the Sparkline Tools Design tab.
  3. Click the Clear drop-down menu.
  4. Choose Clear Selected Sparklines or Clear Selected Sparkline group.

Sparklines are easy to create and can provide a great visual representation of trends in your data.

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