Mini Charts : Sparklines : Usage scenarios

Please read the previous article about Sparklines before reading this article.

Financial statements

Typical financial statements show data in reverse order. Current year first followed by past years.

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You have to read each number from right to left and then compare them mentally to form a pattern. Then we read each row and try to correlate it with other rows.

Now see the same data with Sparklines.

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Problem: Chart is visually in reverse order

Look at the Operating Income. At the first glance it looks as though it is decreasing over time. But in reality, it is increasing over time – data is in reverse order.

To avoid this visual confusion, choose the Sparkline Tools –
Axis options – Plot from right to left. Problem solved.

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Comparing Quotations, Specifications, Scores

Any kind of comparison can be performed visually using Sparklines as long as the data is numeric.

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Notice how it helps you see a clear difference across the models without reading the numbers. It highlights the winner clearly and without ambiguity.

How does it happen? Because it takes the minimum value across the row as the beginning of the axis. Usually all bar charts start with zero. However in this case, the Power bar chart is starting at 177. Therefore the smaller value becomes visually insignificant.

Due to this visual contrast, it is easier to interpret the information. Of course, remember that this may lead you to underestimate actual values. If you want true to life representation of proportions, traditional charts are better.

3 thoughts on “Mini Charts : Sparklines : Usage scenarios

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