Excelling with Microsoft Excel: Self-learning series 1 (Shortcuts and sparklines)


Microsoft Excel is an important tool for most accounting and finance professionals. Knowledge of excel saves time and helps in financial analysis among other benefits. I realised most of us believe we have the knowledge but truthfully speaking, it is basic and limited. This useful resource in my opinion is currently being underutilised.

Thanks to Alison, I have commenced the excel 2010 online course for free. It’s a lot but am taking it a step at a time. To help myself and others I have decided to note down any relevant and key learning points.

This is the first of my self-learning series. I am not an excel guru, am just a student who has decided to share her notes with others who might find it useful. Comments and feedback are always welcome, especially from the experts. We all seek to learn from each other. For those interested in the course check out the link here >>>Microsoft Excel 2010 course.

Key learning points for today

  1. Keyboard shortcuts

If you prefer working directly from the keyboard this will be useful. Pressing ‘alt’ on the keyboard will highlight further shortcuts to easily access the tool bar without having to use your mouse to navigate and click.


For instance to access the ‘file menu’ first press ‘alt’ then ‘F’.

Good thing is you don’t have to memorise the shortcuts.

2. Sparklines
They are graphical representations in a cell. They provide instant graphical representations in the form of lines or columns of a series of data in a row. It makes it easy to assess data trends at a glance.

To make it easier to access this, I have provided step by step guidance including screenshots of each stage.

a) Navigate and click on the insert menu

sparkline insert

The sparklines menu can be easily located close to the right hand side.

Sparklines tab
Sparklines tab

b) Place the cursor in the cell you want the results displayed in before selecting your choice of sparkline.

c) Select your choice of graphical representations: line, column or win or lose.

d) A window will pop up after you make a selection.

Sparkline popup window
Sparkline popup window

e) Select your data range. It should be a row of data. Examples include monthly or yearly budgets or financial statements.

f) The sparkline will reflect in the cell you initially placed your cursor on. You can then drag down to your desired data row range.

sparklines final

At a glance, you can easily spot trends without having to assess each figure at a time.

Very convenient I would say.

sparklines final 2

g) Sparklines options would show in the menu bar. You can play around with the various options to find the one that suits your needs.

sparkline options

Hope you found this useful and learnt something new as I did today.

Comment directly with your questions or send them to mophie227@gmail.com. I will be happy to research and provide answers.

You can join me on this educational journey on twitter @mophie227 or on my blog


3 comments on “Excelling with Microsoft Excel: Self-learning series 1 (Shortcuts and sparklines)”

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