Excel Tutorial: How To Do Line Graphs In Excel


Line graphs are an essential tool in data visualization, allowing for a clear and concise representation of data over time. They make it easy to identify trends and patterns, making them crucial for data analysis. In this tutorial, we will show you how to create line graphs in Excel, and explore the various ways you can customize and utilize them for effective data presentation.

Key Takeaways

  • Line graphs are essential for data visualization and analysis, allowing for clear representation of data over time.
  • Organizing data in columns and adding labels is crucial for setting up data for creating line graphs.
  • Customizing line graphs with colors, styles, titles, and labels can enhance their visual appeal and clarity.
  • Including multiple data series in a line graph can provide a comprehensive view of different trends and patterns.
  • Analyzing line graphs helps in identifying trends and making data-driven decisions for effective data presentation.

Setting up your data

Before creating a line graph in Excel, it's important to set up your data in a way that makes it easy to create a clear and accurate graph. Here are a few key steps to take:

Organizing your data in columns

First, you'll want to organize your data in columns. Each column should represent a different variable, such as time, quantity, or category. For example, if you are plotting sales data over a period of time, you might have one column for the date and another for the sales figures.

Adding labels to your data columns

Labels are important for making your line graph easy to understand. Make sure to add a label to each of your data columns to indicate what type of data is represented. This will help you and others who view your graph to easily interpret the information.

Creating the line graph

When working with data in Excel, line graphs are a great way to visualize trends over time or compare multiple sets of data. Here's how to create a line graph in Excel:

A. Selecting the data to be included in the graph
  • Organize your data:

    Before creating a line graph, make sure your data is well-organized. The X-axis (horizontal axis) should represent the independent variable (e.g., time) while the Y-axis (vertical axis) should represent the dependent variable (e.g., sales figures).
  • Select the data:

    Highlight the cells containing the data you want to include in the line graph. This typically includes the X-axis labels and the corresponding Y-axis values.

B. Inserting the actual line graph
  • Go to the "Insert" tab:

    Once your data is selected, navigate to the "Insert" tab at the top of the Excel window.
  • Click "Line" from the Charts section:

    In the Charts section, select the "Line" option to insert a line graph based on your selected data.
  • Choose the appropriate line graph subtype:

    Excel offers various subtypes of line graphs, such as 2D line, 3D line, stacked line, and more. Choose the subtype that best suits your data visualization needs.
  • Adjust the graph settings:

    Once the line graph is inserted, you can further customize it by adding titles, axis labels, gridlines, and other design elements to enhance clarity and visual appeal.

Customizing the line graph

When creating a line graph in Excel, it's important to customize it to make it visually appealing and easy to understand. Here are some tips on how to customize your line graph:

A. Changing the color and style of the line

  • 1. Changing the color:

    To change the color of the line, right-click on the line and select "Format Data Series." From there, you can choose a different color from the options provided.
  • 2. Changing the style:

    To change the style of the line, you can again right-click on the line, select "Format Data Series," and then choose a different line style from the options provided.

B. Adding titles and labels to the graph

  • 1. Adding a title:

    To add a title to your graph, click on the chart and then click on the "Chart Elements" button (the little green plus sign) that appears when you hover over the chart. From there, you can check the box next to "Chart Title" and enter your desired title.
  • 2. Adding labels:

    To add labels to your graph, you can click on the chart and then click on the "Chart Elements" button. From there, you can check the box next to "Data Labels" to add labels to each data point on the graph.

Adding Additional Data Series

When creating a line graph in Excel, you may often find the need to include multiple data series on the same graph. This can be useful for comparing different sets of data or analyzing trends over time. In this section, we will discuss how to add additional data series to your line graph.

A. How to Include Multiple Lines on the Same Graph

1. Select your line graph: Start by selecting the line graph that you have already created in Excel.

2. Add data series: Click on the "Design" tab in the Excel ribbon and then select "Select Data." This will open a new window where you can add additional data series to your graph.

3. Edit data series: In the "Select Data Source" window, you can edit the current data series and add new ones by clicking on the "Add" button. This will allow you to select the range of cells that contain the data for the new data series.

4. Customize the data series: After adding the new data series, you can customize its appearance by changing the line color, style, or adding data labels.

B. Understanding the Visualization of Multiple Data Series

When you include multiple data series on the same graph, it's important to understand how the visualization of these series can help in interpreting the data.

1. Comparison of trends

  • By including multiple data series on the same graph, you can easily compare the trends of different sets of data. This can help in identifying correlations or patterns that may not be apparent when looking at the data separately.

2. Highlighting differences

  • Visualizing multiple data series can help in highlighting the differences between various sets of data. This can be useful in identifying outliers or understanding the impact of different variables on the overall trend.

By following these steps and understanding the visualization of multiple data series, you can effectively create line graphs in Excel that provide comprehensive insights into your data.

Analyzing the line graph

Once you have created a line graph in Excel, it is important to analyze the data depicted in the graph to draw meaningful conclusions.

A. Identifying trends in the data

One of the key aspects of analyzing a line graph is identifying any trends in the data. Look for patterns or changes in the line that may indicate an upward or downward trend over time. This can help in understanding how certain variables are behaving and what factors may be influencing them.

  • Trend analysis: Use the line graph to identify any long-term trends in the data that can provide insights into the behavior of the variables being depicted.
  • Seasonal variations: Look for any recurring patterns or seasonal variations in the data that may impact the overall trend.
  • Anomalies: Identify any outliers or anomalies in the data that may require further investigation to understand their implications.

B. Using the graph to make data-driven decisions

Utilizing the line graph to make data-driven decisions can be a powerful tool in various fields, from business to science to academia.

  • Forecasting: By analyzing the trends depicted in the line graph, it becomes possible to forecast future outcomes and make informed decisions based on the expected trajectory of the variables.
  • Identifying correlations: The line graph can help in identifying correlations between different variables, allowing for a deeper understanding of the relationships and potential cause-effect dynamics.
  • Evaluating performance: In a business context, the line graph can be used to track and evaluate the performance of various metrics, enabling data-driven decisions for improvement or optimization.


Line graphs are a crucial tool for visualizing trends and patterns in data. They provide a clear and easy-to-understand way to communicate information and make informed decisions. As you continue to improve your skills in Excel, I encourage you to practice creating and analyzing line graphs. The more you work with them, the more confident and proficient you will become in utilizing this valuable feature of Excel.

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