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.

Related to sparklines


4 thoughts on “Sparkline — a word I learned”

  1. A couple of my colleagues have been to an Edward Tufte short course and really enjoyed it. He has some great ideas and some fairly radical ideas. You should hear his opinions on powerpoint presentations!

  2. Andrea – Glad I could help. Sparklines are a great way to illustrate changes over a long period using a very small amount of space. This can be especially helpful when writing reports or creating dashboards.

    If you are a Microsoft Excel user, there is an add-in product by BonaVista Systems called MicroCharts 3. Here is the link, which also has some great examples. The cost is $169-$199 depending on the version you get.
    www. bonavistasystems. com/NewsMicroCharts3.html

    I hope this was helps. Thank you!

    Tony Rose
    Support Analytics

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