Excel Tutorial: How To Make A Linear Graph In Excel


Understanding how to create a linear graph in Excel is an essential skill for anyone working with data. A linear graph is a visual representation of a straight-line relationship between two variables, making it easier to analyze and interpret data trends. Whether you're a student, a researcher, or a professional, knowing how to make a linear graph in Excel can greatly enhance your data analysis capabilities and presentation skills.

Key Takeaways

  • Creating a linear graph in Excel is essential for data analysis and interpretation.
  • Organizing data properly in Excel is crucial for creating an accurate linear graph.
  • Customizing the graph with titles, labels, and styles enhances presentation and analysis.
  • Adding a trendline to the graph can provide valuable insights into data trends.
  • Using the linear graph for data analysis can help make predictions and identify trends.

Understanding Data

Explanation of the data needed for a linear graph

Before creating a linear graph in Excel, it's important to understand the type of data required. In order to make a linear graph, you will need to have a set of paired data points. This means you should have two sets of data that are related to each other, such as time and temperature, or distance and speed.

How to organize the data in Excel for graphing purposes

  • Create a new Excel spreadsheet

    Start by opening a new Excel spreadsheet and entering your data into two separate columns. For example, if you are graphing time and temperature, you would enter the time values in one column and the temperature values in the next column.

  • Add column headers

    It's always a good practice to add column headers to your data. This will make it easier to select the data when creating the graph. You can simply enter the titles for each column in the first row of your spreadsheet.

  • Select the data

    Once your data is organized, you can select the entire range of cells containing your data. This can be done by clicking and dragging your mouse over the cells, or by clicking on the first cell and then pressing Shift while clicking on the last cell of the range.

  • Create the graph

    With your data selected, you can then go to the "Insert" tab at the top of the Excel window and select the type of graph you want to create. In this case, you would choose a "Scatter" or "Line" graph, which will present your data in a linear format.

Creating the Graph

When creating a linear graph in Excel, you'll need to navigate through several steps to ensure that your data is accurately represented. Here's a structured guide to help you through the process:

A. Navigating to the "Insert" tab in Excel

In order to begin creating your linear graph, you'll need to open your Excel spreadsheet and navigate to the "Insert" tab located at the top of the screen. This tab contains all the tools you'll need to insert various elements into your spreadsheet, including charts and graphs.

B. Selecting the "Scatter" chart type for a linear graph

Once you're on the "Insert" tab, you'll need to select the "Scatter" chart type, also known as a scatter plot. This type of chart is ideal for creating linear graphs, as it allows you to plot individual data points and see the relationship between them in a visual format.

C. Adding data series to the graph

After selecting the "Scatter" chart type, it's time to add your data series to the graph. This involves selecting the data points you want to include in the graph and adding them to the chart. You can do this by clicking on the "Select Data" option within the "Chart Tools" tab, and then adding your data series one by one.

Customizing the Graph

After creating a linear graph in Excel, you may want to customize it to make it more visually appealing and easier to understand. Here are some ways to customize your graph:

A. Adding titles and axis labels to the graph
  • Title:

    To add a title to your graph, click on the "Chart Title" option under the "Chart Tools" tab. This will allow you to insert a title and format it according to your preferences.
  • Axis Labels:

    To add labels to the x-axis and y-axis, click on the "Axis Titles" option under the "Chart Tools" tab. You can then input the labels for each axis and customize the font, size, and color.

B. Changing the style and color of the graph
  • Style:

    To change the style of the graph, right-click on the chart and select "Change Chart Type." This will allow you to choose from various graph styles such as line, bar, or scatter plot.
  • Color:

    To change the color of the graph, click on the chart to select it, and then navigate to the "Chart Styles" section under the "Chart Tools" tab. From there, you can choose different color schemes and combinations to customize the look of your graph.

C. Adjusting the scale of the axes
  • Horizontal Axis:

    To adjust the scale of the x-axis, right-click on the axis and select "Format Axis." This will open a window where you can set the minimum and maximum values, as well as the intervals for the axis.
  • Vertical Axis:

    To adjust the scale of the y-axis, follow the same steps as above to open the "Format Axis" window and customize the scale according to your data.

Adding Trendline

Creating a linear graph in Excel can be a powerful way to visualize and analyze data. One of the key features of a linear graph is the trendline, which allows you to see the overall trend in your data. Here's how to add a trendline to your graph:

A. Navigating to the "Chart Tools" tab in Excel

When you have your graph open in Excel, you will see the "Chart Tools" tab at the top of the screen. Click on this tab to access the tools for editing your graph.

B. Selecting "Add Trendline" option

Once you are in the "Chart Tools" tab, look for the "Add Chart Element" button. Click on this button, and then select "Trendline" from the drop-down menu. This will add a trendline to your graph.

C. Choosing the type of trendline for a linear graph

After selecting "Trendline," a menu will appear with different options for the type of trendline you want to add. Choose "Linear" from the list of options to create a trendline that best fits your data in a straight line.

Data Analysis with the Graph

When working with data in Excel, creating a linear graph can help visualize the relationships between variables and make predictions based on the data. Understanding how to interpret and use a linear graph is an essential skill for data analysis and decision-making.

A. Interpreting the linear graph
  • Understanding the axes:

    The x-axis represents the independent variable, while the y-axis represents the dependent variable. It's important to understand which variable is being plotted on each axis in order to interpret the graph correctly.
  • Observing the trendline:

    The trendline on a linear graph shows the overall pattern or trend in the data. It helps to visually identify whether the relationship between the variables is positive (increasing), negative (decreasing), or neutral (no change).
  • Identifying outliers:

    Outliers are data points that deviate significantly from the overall pattern of the graph. These points can have a significant impact on the interpretation of the data and should be carefully considered when analyzing the graph.

B. Using the graph to make predictions and analyze trends in the data
  • Extrapolating data:

    With a linear graph, it is possible to extend the trendline to predict future values of the dependent variable based on the independent variable. This can be useful for forecasting trends or making projections based on historical data.
  • Identifying correlations:

    By analyzing the linear graph, it is possible to identify correlations between the variables being plotted. A strong correlation indicates a clear relationship between the variables, while a weak correlation suggests a more random or unpredictable relationship.
  • Comparing data sets:

    When multiple data sets are plotted on the same linear graph, it becomes easier to compare trends and patterns between the different sets of data. This can provide valuable insights into the relationships between variables and how they interact with each other.


In conclusion, creating a linear graph in Excel is an essential skill for anyone working with data analysis or visualization. It allows you to present your data in a clear and easy-to-understand format, making it easier to identify patterns and trends. As you continue to refine your Excel skills, mastering graphing features will be crucial for presenting your data effectively.

We encourage you to explore and practice with Excel's graphing features to become more comfortable with creating various types of graphs and improving your data visualization skills. The more you practice, the more proficient you will become in utilizing Excel to its fullest potential.

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