Excel Tutorial: How To Create A Cumulative Graph In Excel


Are you looking to create a cumulative graph in Excel but not sure where to start? In this tutorial, we will guide you through the process of creating a cumulative graph to visually represent the cumulative totals of a data series. Whether you are tracking sales figures, inventory levels, or project milestones, understanding how to create a cumulative graph can provide valuable insights into your data trends and overall performance.

Using cumulative graphs in Excel is important for gaining a clear understanding of how values accumulate over time or categories. It allows you to see the overall growth or decline of your data points and identify any patterns or trends that may not be apparent when looking at individual data points alone.

Key Takeaways

  • Cumulative graphs in Excel visually represent the cumulative totals of a data series, providing valuable insights into data trends and overall performance.
  • Organizing and sorting data in Excel is essential for creating an accurate cumulative graph.
  • Adding cumulative data to a line graph involves calculating cumulative totals and inserting them into the graph.
  • Customizing the cumulative graph allows for better visualization and analysis of the data trends.
  • Cumulative graphs can be used for forecasting, planning, and identifying trends in the data for informed decision-making.

Setting up your data

Before you can create a cumulative graph in Excel, you need to set up your data properly. This involves organizing your data in Excel and sorting it in ascending order.

A. Organizing your data in Excel
  • Open a new Excel spreadsheet and enter your data into the cells. For example, if you are tracking sales data, you might have the months in one column and the sales figures in another.
  • Make sure each column has a header that describes the data it contains. This will make it easier to select the data for the graph.

B. Sorting your data in ascending order
  • Select the entire range of data you want to include in your cumulative graph.
  • Click on the "Data" tab at the top of the Excel window, and then click on "Sort A to Z" to sort the data in ascending order. This is necessary for creating a cumulative graph, as it will ensure that the graph displays the data in a cumulative manner.

Creating a line graph

When it comes to visualizing cumulative data in Excel, creating a line graph is an effective way to showcase the progression over time. Here's how you can create a cumulative line graph in Excel:

A. Selecting the data range for your graph

Before you can create a cumulative graph, you need to select the data range that you want to include. This can be done by highlighting the cells that contain the data you want to graph. Ensure that you include the column or row headers if applicable.

B. Inserting a line graph into your Excel sheet

Once you have selected the data range, it's time to insert the line graph into your Excel sheet. Follow these steps to do so:

1. Navigate to the "Insert" tab

  • Click on the "Insert" tab in the Excel ribbon at the top of the screen.

2. Select the "Line Graph" option

  • Within the "Charts" group, click on the "Line" option to display the various line graph options available.

3. Choose the specific line graph style

  • Choose the specific line graph style that best suits your data. For a cumulative graph, you may want to select a basic line graph.

After following these steps, you should now have a line graph inserted into your Excel sheet based on the selected data range. You can then further customize the graph to fit your preferences and accurately display the cumulative data.

Adding cumulative data to the graph

When creating a line graph in Excel, you may want to include cumulative data to better visualize the overall trend. Here’s how you can calculate cumulative totals in Excel and add them to your line graph.

A. Calculating cumulative totals in Excel

To calculate cumulative totals in Excel, you can use the SUM function along with absolute and relative cell references. Follow these steps:

  • Select a cell next to your data. This is where your cumulative total will appear.
  • Type the formula =SUM(
  • Select the first cell in your data range. This will create an absolute reference.
  • Type a colon (:)
  • Select the last cell in your data range. This will create a relative reference.
  • Type a closing parenthesis ), then press Enter.
  • Drag the fill handle down to apply the formula to the entire column. This will calculate cumulative totals for each row of data.

B. Adding cumulative totals to the line graph

After calculating the cumulative totals, you can add them to your line graph to visualize the cumulative trend. Here’s how:

  • Select your line graph. Click on the chart to select it.
  • Click on the “Design” tab in the Chart Tools menu. This will appear at the top of the Excel window when the chart is selected.
  • Click on “Select Data” in the Data group. This will open the Select Data Source dialog box.
  • Click “Add” under the “Legend Entries (Series)” section. This will open the Edit Series dialog box.
  • Enter the cell range for your cumulative totals. This will add the cumulative totals to your line graph as a new series.
  • Click “OK” to close the Edit Series dialog box, then click “OK” again to close the Select Data Source dialog box. Your line graph will now include the cumulative totals.

Customizing the cumulative graph

After creating a cumulative graph in Excel, you may want to customize it to better suit your needs and make it more visually appealing. Here are a few ways to do that:

A. Adjusting the axis labels and titles
  • Horizontal (X) Axis:

    When working with a cumulative graph, the horizontal axis usually represents time or some other form of progression. To adjust the labels on this axis, right-click on the axis and select "Format Axis." From there, you can customize the labels to display the specific time periods or increments you want to show on the graph.
  • Vertical (Y) Axis:

    The vertical axis on a cumulative graph typically represents the cumulative total. You can customize the title and format of this axis by right-clicking on it and selecting "Format Axis." Here, you can change the title, format the numbers, and adjust the scale as needed.

B. Changing the line style and color
  • Line Style:

    By default, Excel creates cumulative graphs using a solid line. If you want to change the style of the line, right-click on the data series in the graph and select "Format Data Series." In the "Line" options, you can choose a different line style, such as dashed or dotted, to make the graph more visually distinct.
  • Line Color:

    To change the color of the line on the cumulative graph, you can also do so in the "Format Data Series" menu. Under the "Line" options, select a new color from the palette or enter a custom color code to make the graph stand out or align with your brand's color scheme.

Analyzing the cumulative graph

When you have created a cumulative graph in Excel, it's important to analyze the data and identify any trends that may be present. This can help you make informed decisions and gain valuable insights into the performance of your data over time.

  • Identifying trends in the data
  • By examining the cumulative graph, you can easily identify any upward or downward trends in the data. This can be helpful in understanding patterns and making predictions about future performance. For example, if the cumulative graph shows a consistent upward trend, it may indicate steady growth in a particular metric over time.

  • Using the cumulative graph for forecasting and planning
  • The cumulative graph can also be used for forecasting and planning purposes. By analyzing the trends in the data, you can make more accurate predictions about future outcomes. This can be particularly useful for budgeting, resource planning, and setting performance targets.


In conclusion, creating a cumulative graph in Excel involves a few simple steps, such as selecting the data, inserting a line chart, and formatting the chart to display cumulative totals. By following these steps, you can effectively visualize cumulative data in your Excel spreadsheets. It's important to practice and explore other graphing options in Excel to further enhance your data presentation skills. The more you experiment with Excel's features, the more proficient you'll become in creating impactful visual representations of your data.

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