Excel Tutorial: How To Add Dotted Line In Excel Graph


Adding a dotted line in an Excel graph can be a useful visual aid for highlighting a specific data point or trend in your data. Whether you want to draw attention to a target value, a historical average, or a projected outcome, dotted lines can help your audience quickly identify the information you want to emphasize. In this tutorial, we will provide a brief overview of the steps to follow in order to add a dotted line to your Excel graph, allowing you to enhance the clarity of your data visualization.

Key Takeaways

  • Adding a dotted line in an Excel graph can help highlight specific data points or trends.
  • Understanding the different elements of an Excel graph is important for effective data visualization.
  • Selecting the right data series and adjusting the line style are crucial steps in adding a dotted line.
  • Changing the line formatting, such as thickness and color, can further enhance the visual impact of the dotted line.
  • Double-checking for accuracy and consistency, and exploring different formatting options, can improve the overall quality of the Excel graph.

Understanding Excel graphs

When working with data in Excel, creating visual representations of that data is essential for analysis and presentation purposes. Excel graphs are a powerful tool for displaying data in a way that is easy to understand and interpret.

A. Explanation of the different elements of an Excel graph
  • Data series:

    The individual sets of data that are plotted on the graph.
  • Axes:

    The horizontal and vertical lines that provide a reference for the data points.
  • Legend:

    A key that explains the different data series represented on the graph.
  • Title:

    A descriptive label for the graph.

B. Importance of using different line styles for data representation

Using different line styles in Excel graphs can help to differentiate between multiple data series and make the graph easier to read and interpret. Dotted lines, in particular, can be useful for highlighting trends or projections within the data.

Selecting the data for the dotted line

A. How to identify the specific data series that requires a dotted line

Before adding a dotted line to your Excel graph, you need to identify the specific data series that requires the dotted line. This could be a particular trend or a target line that you want to highlight within your graph.

B. Steps to select the data for the dotted line

  • 1. Open your Excel spreadsheet and navigate to the worksheet containing the data for your graph.
  • 2. Click on the chart to select it and then click on the specific data series for which you want to add a dotted line. This will highlight the data series within the chart.
  • 3. Once the data series is selected, go to the "Format" tab in the Excel ribbon.
  • 4. In the "Format" tab, look for the "Shape Outline" option and click on it.
  • 5. From the drop-down menu, select the "Dashes" option to apply a dotted line style to the selected data series.
  • 6. You can further customize the dotted line by choosing the color and thickness from the "Shape Outline" menu, if required.

Changing the line style

When creating a graph in Excel, you may want to customize the appearance of the lines on your graph for better visualization. One way to do this is by adding a dotted line to your graph. Here's how you can achieve this:

A. Navigating to the 'Format Data Series' options

To change the line style on your Excel graph, you will first need to navigate to the 'Format Data Series' options. This can be done by right-clicking on the data series line that you want to modify. A drop-down menu will appear, and you should select the 'Format Data Series' option from this menu.

B. Selecting the dotted line option from the line style menu

After accessing the 'Format Data Series' options, a new pane will appear on the right-hand side of the Excel window. Within this pane, you will see various formatting options you can customize. Look for the 'Line' or 'Line Style' section, and within this section, you should see a 'Line Style' menu. From this menu, you can select the dotted line option to apply to your data series line on the graph.

Adjusting the line formatting

When creating a graph in Excel, it's important to ensure that the lines and formatting are visually appealing and easy to understand. One way to do this is by adding a dotted line to the graph, which can help to differentiate between different data series or highlight specific trends.

A. Changing the thickness and color of the dotted line

To add a dotted line to your Excel graph, start by selecting the data series to which you want to apply the dotted line. Then, right-click on the data series and select "Format Data Series" from the context menu. In the Format Data Series pane, navigate to the "Line" options and choose the desired line color and thickness. Next, click on the "Dash type" dropdown menu and select "Round Dot" to apply the dotted line style.

B. Previewing the changes in the Excel graph

Once you have made the necessary changes to the line formatting, you can preview the results directly in the Excel graph. Simply close the Format Data Series pane, and the graph will automatically update to reflect the changes you have made. This allows you to quickly assess whether the dotted line is visually effective and adjust the formatting as needed.

Finalizing the graph

After adding the dotted line to the Excel graph, it's important to ensure that the graph is accurate and consistent. This will help in presenting the data effectively and making it easy for the audience to interpret.

A. Double-checking for accuracy and consistency
  • Review the data:

    Before finalizing the graph, double-check the data used to create the graph. Ensure that the data is accurate and up to date.
  • Verify the graph elements:

    Check for consistency in the graph elements such as axis labels, data points, and any other visuals used. Make sure they align with the data accurately.
  • Test the dotted line:

    Verify that the dotted line appears as intended and accurately represents the specific data points or trend on the graph.

B. Saving the Excel graph with the dotted line
  • Save the graph:

    Once all the elements of the graph, including the dotted line, are in place and verified, save the Excel file to preserve the changes made.
  • Consider the format:

    When saving the Excel graph, consider the desired format for sharing or presenting the graph. This could include saving it as a PDF, image file, or directly within the Excel file.
  • Keep a backup:

    It's good practice to keep a backup of the Excel file with the graph, especially after making significant changes such as adding a dotted line. This can be helpful in case the file is accidentally modified or corrupted.


In conclusion, adding a dotted line in an Excel graph can help emphasize specific data points or trends, making it easier for your audience to interpret the information. It can also make your graph more visually appealing and professional.

As you continue to work with Excel, I encourage you to practice and explore different formatting options in Excel graphs. The more comfortable you become with these features, the more effectively you'll be able to communicate your data in a clear and compelling way.

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