For all of you visual learners out there, listen up – this one is for you.
I’m guessing, if you're like me, you hate looking at raw data. It’s confusing and boring, and numbers put me to sleep. Graphs displaying that data, on the other hand, are pretty interesting.
Here’s what’s on the agenda:
Let’s get started.
Line graphs, also referred to as line charts, are used for plotting a data series (or several) against category values to display trends.
Keep in mind: These graphs are commonly confused with XY (Scatter) charts, which, unlike line graphs, have no category values. If you have data with labels, numbers, or dates and are looking to display trends in that data, create a line chart.
I’ll walk you through the actual creation of your line graph next, but to get us started, below you’ll see a close-up of the Excel line graph button that you’ll be using.
If you click this button, you’ll see that you can make your line chart in Excel with six different line types. They are:
While you can use any of these options, in the examples below I’ll be showing you how to make a line graph with markers (my personal recommendation).
Creating a line chart will require you to have two axes – your X-axis and Y-axis. So when it comes to entering the data for your line graph, enter it in two columns (or more if you have more data), with the X-axis data on the left, and Y-axis data on the right.
In this particular example, I’m tracking cash flow over the course of ten years.
|TIP: Interested in more Excel tips? Learn how to divide in Excel|
Once you’ve entered and formatted your data, highlight the range of cells (A1: B11) that contains the data group.
From there, navigate to the ‘Insert’ tab on the top banner and click the ‘Line’ chart button.
A drop-down menu will appear with the line graph options I mentioned earlier in this article. I personally prefer the ‘Line With Markers’ option because it allows you to hover over data points and see the values.
Select the graph style you’d like to use to create your line chart.
You’ve successfully made a line graph in Excel! You can hover over markers to see a detailed description of the data point.
Next I’ll cover how to edit your line graph.
If you choose to edit your line chart at any point, here’s what you should know:
If you run into a situation where you need to change or update data – say an incorrect cash flow amount – simply click on the cell that contains the data you want to edit.
Make your change and press ‘Enter.’ Your line graph will update the data point instantly.
If you’d like to resize the graph, click and drag the little white squares on the corners and edges of the graph to make it bigger or smaller. To avoid distorting the chart, I’d recommend only adjusting the size using the corner squares.
To change the title of your line graph, simply double-click on the title of the graph and start typing!
After you’re done, click anywhere on the page away from the title box and your new title will be saved.
Tip: You can also add and edit your graph’s axis labels! Do this by clicking on ‘Add Chart Element’ in the top right corner, hover over ‘Axis Titles,’ and add whichever axis titles you please!
After you’ve created your graph, you can customize it! There are two tabs for customizing your graph: Chart Design and Format
Under the ‘Chart Design’ tab you can browse existing chart styles and play with different chart colors.
You can also add elements like labels, titles, and a legend to your line graph. To do this, click ‘Add Chart Elements’ in the top right corner and browse the options in the drop-down menu.
The ‘Format’ tab allows you to insert shapes, change text styles and color, and adjust the size of the graph manually. You can hover over each option for more info.
In this article, we’ve covered everything you need to know about how to make, edit, and customize line graphs in Excel.
Now grab your computer and dive into Excel to give it a try for yourself!
Jordan Wahl is a Content Marketing Manager who joined G2 after graduating with her BBA in Marketing from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. She loves anything that puts her in her creative space – including writing, art, and music (her absolute favorite).
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