3 Ways to Add Sparklines in Microsoft Excel

This easy-to-understand and practice Excel tutorial will help you learn how to add sparklines in Excel!

Microsoft Excel is a robust data visualization software. It’s packed with more than 15 charts with multiple variations for each type. All these charts take up an extra space on your worksheet as an object.

What if you want small and easy-to-visualize charts within cells at the end of a row or column? What if you want certain charts that give you quick insights about the dataset in simple visual elements without occupying a large portion of the worksheet?

Here comes Excel sparklines to fulfill your data visualization requirements. Keep reading as I explain what it is, its types, and various ways to insert such visualizations in Excel. I’ll also share some practical tips on Excel sparklines so you can confidently show off your skills at work or school.

📒 Read More: 8 Best Ways To Make a Pie Chart in Microsoft Excel

What Are Sparklines in Excel?

Sparklines in Excel
Sparklines in Excel

Sparklines in Excel are small, simple charts that fit within a single cell. Microsoft introduced this data visualization feature in Excel in the 2010 edition. These elements show trends and variations in data over time or categories.

With the help of sparklines, you can condense information into a visually compact chart so the audience can get an immediate idea about the trend at the end of a data row or column. It also saves space on your Excel worksheet.

Find below notable use cases when you might need to add sparklines in Excel:

  • Visualize a trend of values in a series of datasets organized by a row or a column.
  • Showcase seasonal decreases or increases in business activities like sales, inventories, investments, borrowings, installments, and more.
  • You can use sparklines to present economic cycles in a region or country.
  • Sparklines can easily showcase the minimum and maximum values across a row or column in tabular Excel datasets.

In a nutshell, sparklines are applicable in those datasets that show variation within a specific period.

Types of Excel Sparklines

Microsft Excel offers the following sparkling types:

Example of column sparklines
Example of column sparklines

1. Column Sparklines: Column sparklines are compact bar graphs embedded within individual cells in Excel. These are useful for showcasing data such as quarterly sales figures, market shares, or survey results.

Example of Win Loss sparklines
Example of Win Loss sparklines

2. Win/Loss Sparklines: These are also known as binary sparklines. Win/Loss Sparklines are simple bar charts where the positive values go upwards above the horizontal access. If there are any negative values in the dataset, the corresponding bar graph will go downwards from the X-axis.

Example of Line sparklines
Example of Line sparklines

3. Line Sparklines: These are miniature line charts that visually represent data trends within a single cell for the preceding data range. You can use this sparkline type to present trends, patterns, and fluctuations in stock prices, sales figures, temperature, population, and so on.

Now that you’ve developed a basic understanding, find below various methods to insert sparklines in Excel:

Add Excel Sparklines From the Insert Tab

Sparkline for rows
Sparkline for rows

To effectively incorporate sparklines into your Excel worksheet, it’s essential to first organize your data properly. Arrange the dataset in rows, such as A2:E2, allowing you to position the sparkline in F2 to visualize the preceding cell values.

Sparklines for columns
Sparklines for columns

Similarly, if incorporating sparklines into columns, ensure the dataset starts from the top of the column. For instance, if your dataset spans from B2:B10, position the sparkline in B11. Avoid including any text or blank cells in the dataset. Including zeros or blanks may cause Excel to skip those spaces in the sparkline, potentially leading to a confusing visualization.

Highlight cell range
Highlight cell range

Once you’ve organized your dataset as shown in the above screenshots, highlight the destination cell range to generate the sparklines.

Go to the Insert tab, and click on the type of sparkline you want to place from the Sparklines commands block.

Create Sparklines dialog
Create Sparklines dialog

The Create Sparklines dialog will pop open. There, click the Data Range field and choose the input data for the sparklines.

Column Sparklines Excel
Column Sparklines Excel

Excel will create the sparklines instantly.

Sparkline modifications
Sparkline modifications

Should you choose to edit various elements of the sparklines you’ve added, go to the Sparkline tab.

Here, you can modify the following:

  • Sparklines Show allows you to activate or deactivate High Point, First Point, Negative Points, and so on.
  • Sparklines Style in a box list.
  • Sparkline Color and Marker Color drop-down menus to customize the colors.
  • Axis drop-down to customize Horizontal Axis and Vertical Axis configurations.
Sparklines at the end of columns
Sparklines at the end of columns

Suppose you want sparklines to be added below the columns of the dataset. For that, you just need to select the next row below the columns where your dataset ends as the destination.

Create Sparklines in Excel Using Quick Analysis

This is the quickest method to create sparklines in cells in Excel.

Sparklines in quick analysis
Sparklines in quick analysis

Simply, highlight the target dataset and click on the Quick Analysis button at the lower right corner of the highlighted table.

A context menu will pop up with multiple tabs.

Added sparklines from QAT
Choosing sparkling type from QAT

Navigate to the Sparklines tab and click on a sparkling style you need.

Add Sparklines in Excel using QAT
Add Sparklines in Excel using QAT

Excel should add the sparkline group vertically, to the right side of the dataset.

Edit group location and data
Edit group location and data

To convert the vertical sparkline to a horizontal one, go to the Sparkline tab and click on the Edit Data drop-down.

Edit sparklines
Edit sparklines

Click on the Edit Group Location & Data to open the Edit Sparklines dialog.

Select new range
Select new range

There, click on the Location Range field and highlight a horizontal cell range below the dataset.

Transformed Sparklines in Excel
Transformed Sparklines in Excel

Excel shall change the orientation and the input data range automatically for the horizontal sparklines.

Add Excel Sparklines in Tables and PivotTables

Sparklines in Excel are also available in Excel Table and PivotTable objects.

Sparklines in Excel table
Sparklines in Excel table

Above is an example of a sparkline group created on an Excel table object. You just need to select the destination for the in-cell charts and follow the steps mentioned previously in this article to add sparklines.

Sparklines in PivotTables
Sparklines in PivotTables

Find above a simple example of PivotTable sparklines. The process to add sparklines here is also the same as explained previously.

First-Hand Experience Tips on Excel Sparklines

These tips will help you perfect your sparkline-making skill in Excel:

  • Choose the right type of sparkline based on the data and the story you want to tell. Usually, you must choose the Line for trends, the Column for comparisons, and the Win/Loss for simple up/down in datasets.
  • Excel disable the Sparklines block when you open Microsoft Excel in safe mode.
  • Customize sparkline colors and styles to match your Excel theme and improve readability.
  • Pay attention to axis labels and data points to ensure clarity and understanding.
  • Place sparklines close to the corresponding data to facilitate easy comparison.
  • Don’t forget to control how missing data appears in sparklines.
  • Adjust the axis range to focus on relevant data.
  • Use markers for highs, lows, or specific values in your sparklines.
  • If the sparkling seems too congested, don’t forget to change the row height and column width to improve visibility.
  • Sparklines are essentially image layers on cells. So, you can still add data into the cells containing a sparkling.

Conclusions

So far, you’ve explored different methods to add sparklines in Excel. Try out the method that you find doable to sharpen your sparkline-making skill in Excel.

If the article helped or you’d like to share any feedback, don’t hesitate to comment below.

About the Author

Tamal Das

Tamal Das

I'm a freelance writer at HowToExcel.org. After completing my MS in Science, I joined reputed IT consultancy companies to acquire hands-on knowledge of data analysis and data visualization techniques as a business analyst. Now, I'm a professional freelance content writer for everything Excel and its advanced support tools, like Power Pivot, Power Query, Office Scripts, and Excel VBA. I published many tutorials and how-to articles on Excel for sites like MakeUseOf, AddictiveTips, OnSheets, Technipages, and AppleToolBox. In weekends, I perform in-depth web search to learn the latest tricks and tips of Excel so I can write on these in the weekdays!

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