Adding a sparkline graph to your Excel spreadsheet is an effective way of summarising your data in a visual aid, without having to take up space with a detailed graph.
Microsoft Excel 2010 has a built-in sparklines feature, but you can easily create them in Excel 2007 – tutorial below. Our public Microsoft Excel for Beginners course teaches you how to use Excel 2010, but we’ll be happy to train you on Excel 2007 if you choose a private course. (With regards to future updates to Microsoft Office, we’ll always check which version you’re using before we book you onto the course). This is the same for our Advanced Excel training and VBA for Excel course.
The main thing to remember about sparklines is that they are intended to be a simple visual of your data. If you find you want or need more labelling and legends, it’s worth going back to your usual graphs.
Inserting a Sparkline in Excel
Select the data labels for the X-axis, hold down Ctrl, and select the data for the Y axis.
Go to the Insert tab, choose Line and 2D-line
With your basic graph now on the page, you could remove all the labels and legends manually. A much quicker way is to click on ‘Chart Layouts’ in the Design tab and choose Layout 11 (no need to hover over them, it’s easily recognisable as the one that makes a sparkline as it has the least detail).
Now, drag your chart so one of its corners lines up with where you want it to be, then grab the opposite corner & shrink it to the right size. Then hold down Alt and move the chart – it will snap into place with the spreadsheet gridlines.
Sparklines are all about making use of space, so you can get rid of white space in your graph by selecting it, going to the Layout tab, clicking on Axes, Primary Vertical Axes and More Primary Vertical Axes Options. Select ‘fixed’ for the first two options, and enter the appropriate numbers.
Close this window (it will automatically apply changes) and look at your sparkline. If the axis labels have appeared on it, simply press ‘delete’ to get rid of them.
And you’re done! Now you have your data nicely illustrated with a sparkline.