Sparkline — a word I learned

Sparkline. The word stood out when I was reading Tony Rose’s Decision Support Analytics blog recently. I’d never heard of a sparkline before. So I went looking for a definition. Apparently, Edward Tufte invented the sparkline. He defines sparkline on his website as “data-intense, design-simple, word-sized graphics”, but I prefer the explanation over at Wikipedia, since it includes examples of the graphics. Apparently, they’re intended to be used within text, like symbols in a sentence. Call them modern-day hieroglyhics.

I love the concept of a sparkline. I’m hoping to start using the symbols in my reports and marketing tools. In the past two decades, we’ve seen symbols surge in use — just look at the pictures in the navigation bar of your browser. So it’s inevitable that pictograms would show up in written text.

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