Sparklines in PowerPoint Presentations

A sparkline is a small intense, simple, word-sized graphic with typographic resolution, meaning that graphics are no longer cartoonish special occasions with captions and boxes, but rather sparkline graphic can be everywhere a word or number can be: embedded in a sentence, table, headline, map, spreadsheet, graphic. Sparklines, a concept invented by Edward Tufte, compress large amounts of data into intense, word-sized graphics, learn more in beautiful evidence. The definition is coined to Edward Tufte, who has been appointed by Obama recently to help on data visualization and transparent government, accordingly to Business Week.

In PowerPoint there are many different approaches to generate Sparklines, one of the solutions in this field is SparkMaker.

SparkMaker is an add-in for Office that creates sparklines (mini graphs) to visualize numerical data in dashboards, spreadsheets, reports, and presentations created with Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. The version 4 of SparkMaker uses a new minimized-clicks approach that helps you automatically condense your data into sparklines.

Here is a list of features that you can find in SparkMarker:

  • Supports various sparkline types: bars, lines, winner/loser (whiskers), pie charts
  • Creates sparklines directly in your PowerPoint presentations but also in Word and Excel
  • Generates sparklines either textually using TrueType Fonts or as vector-based images (EMF)
  • User-defined functions for dynamic sparkline updates in Excel XP, 2003, 2007, 2010
  • Flexible scaling of sparklines
  • Additional statistical information: standard deviation, trend
  • Multiple formatting options, such as color and landmark values
  • New: now also available in sparkline functions
  • Enables high-quality print-outs
  • Exports to popular bitmap image file formats: BMP, GIF, JPG, PNG, TIFF
  • Supports Microsoft Office 2000, Office XP, Office 2003, Office 2007 and Office 2010

If we need more advanced features or design our own Sparklines in PowerPoint, then we can try to use the draw tool and insert a freeform shape in PowerPoint.

If you don’t want to pay for this tool, then you can create your own sparklines using PowerPoint or other free tools. In particular, you should be aware the Google Chart API has a Sparkline chart that you can generate with a simple URL. In this slide below we have inserted a sparkline chart from Google Chart API into the PowerPoint slide. You can do this just as you did with images (see Inserting images in PowerPoint).

In this example below we have used a Google Chart sparkline to simulate a sparkline visualization inside a PowerPoint table. You can use your own sparkline code and data to embed an image like this using Google Chart API. You can learn more in the API doc (Google Docs API Sparkline)

Other ways to add Spark lines to PowerPoint presentations

Alternatively in Photoshop we can use a script to create sparklines, but there are other articles in the Internet where you can learn how to create Spark Lines in an advanced way. For example, you may want to add spark lines in Excel and then port it to PowerPoint like explained in this post from Office. Or you may want to generate online spark lines with tools like

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