Office 2010: Spark some interest in Excel!

February 25, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Posted in Microsoft, Technical Tips | Leave a comment
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Continuing our tour through the new features of Office 2010, we move into Excel. The new version of Excel includes graphic improvements in conditional formatting and new functions for engineering and cube analysis (if you don’t know what a data cube, you’re better off not knowing). But Excel has some mores surprises in store. Namely, sparklines and slicers.

To understand what a sparkline is, we need to revisit a common problem with data tables and charts.

If you want to ensure that your meeting audience doesn’t nod off and wake  up in their own drool, you need to make data interesting. So, you make a chart. But, then that one person gets all up tight and insists on seeing the numbers, and you have to fumble around to look it up. Wouldn’t be swell if you could keep your data table, but still retain a bit of that chart excitement?

Enter sparklines. Sparklines are basically inline summary charts. To use one, you simply select a data range and then choose the Line, Column, or Win/Loss style. The SparkLine tools section provides many customization options. You can choose whether to mark the low and high point markers, modify the line or bar style, and set the sparkline and marker colors.

So now our data table has a visual summary column as follows.

Hey! I never promised the next James Cameron 3D epic, but it certainly works better for those visualizers out there, right? Next session, we’ll focus on the new analysis cube features and slices!

–Joshua Hester aka codeguru, Transcender’s MCAS test developer and in-house nerf herder

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