How to Make a Line Graph in Excel - Step by Step Guide

Learn how to create a line graph in Excel with this step-by-step guide. Easy-to-follow instructions for beginners. Perfect for data analysis and presentations.
How to Make a Line Graph in Excel

Are you struggling with creating a line graph in Excel? Look no further, as we’ve got you covered! In this article, we’ll guide you through making a line graph in Excel.

By the end, you'll have a good grasp of creating a line graph in Excel and confidently use this tool to present data visually appealingly. 

So, let's begin creating a line graph in Excel today!

Table of Contents

  1. Understanding Line Charts in Excel
  2. How to Create a Line Chart in Excel
  3. When to Use (and Not Use) a Line Graph in Excel
  4. How to Make a Multiple Line Graph in Excel
  5. Excel line chart types
  6. Customizing Excel Line Charts
  7. FAQs
  8. Final Thoughts

Understanding Line Charts in Excel

A line chart is a picture that shows information. It is used to show how things change over time. You might use it to show how many ice creams you sell daily or how many visitors visit a website each week.

The chart has two lines called axes. The horizontal axis goes from left to right and shows the time. The vertical axis goes up and down and shows the number of ice creams sold or visitors to the website.

When you put your data into the chart, it will make a line that goes up and down depending on how many ice creams or visitors there are. If the line goes up, more ice creams or visitors are sold. If the line goes down, fewer ice creams are sold or visitors.

A line chart can help you see if something is improving or worsening. If the line goes up, it means things are getting better. If the line goes down, it means things are getting worse.

How to Create a Line Chart in Excel

Here is a step-by-step guide to creating a line chart that even a fifth-grader can understand:

  1. Select the data you want to use for the line chart. This data should be organized into columns or rows.
  2. Click on the "Insert" tab at the top of the Excel window.
  3. Choose the "Line" or "Area" chart from the options presented.
  4. Select "Line with Markers" to create a line chart with dots representing the data points.

  5. Click on the chart area to access the "Design" and "Format" tabs.

  6. Choose a chart style from the "Design" tab that fits your needs.
  7. Click on the chart title and type in the text you want for the title.
  8. To change the font size, right-click the title and choose "Font," then adjust the size as needed.

  9. Click on the legend to make changes or add it if needed.
  10. To plot a data series along a secondary vertical axis, select it and go to the "Format" tab. Click on "Format Selection," then under "Series Options," choose "Secondary Axis."
  11. Use the "Chart Layouts" group on the "Design" tab to add a primary or secondary vertical axis title.
  12. Customize the plot area with "Shape Styles" from the "Format" tab.
  13. Apply a theme color from the "Themes" group on the "Page Layout" tab if you want to use colors other than the default.

When to Use (and Not Use) a Line Graph in Excel

A line graph is a great choice to show how things change over time. It's easy to make and understand, and you can use it to compare different data sets. However, line graphs are not always the best option.

For instance:

If you have a lot of data points, a line graph can become too cluttered and difficult to read. In that case, you may use a different chart type, such as a bar graph. Similarly, a bar graph would be better if your data is not continuous but falls into distinct categories.

Another situation in which a line graph may not be the best option is when you want to show percentages or proportions. A pie chart or stacked column chart would be more appropriate for that purpose.

Finally, while a line chart shows trends over time, it is not ideal for scheduling projects. For that, you would want to use a Gantt chart.

How to Make a Multiple-Line Graph in Excel

If you want to compare the trends of different data sets in Excel, you can create a multiple-line graph. To do this, follow these simple steps:

  1. Ensure your data table has at least 3 columns: one for the time intervals and two or more for the observations (numeric values).
  2. Select your data, including the column headers.
  3. Go to the Insert tab, click the Insert Line or Area Chart icon, and choose the type of line graph you want.
  4. Your multiple-line graph will appear on the worksheet, and you can now compare the trends for each data set.

It's important to remember that too many lines on a graph can make it difficult to read. It's best to limit the number of lines to 3-4.

Excel line chart types

The following are some common types of line charts that you can make in Excel:

  1. Line Graph: This is the basic type of line chart that shows changes in a single data set over time.

  2. Stacked Line Graph: This chart shows how different parts of a whole change over time. The lines in this graph are cumulative, so they never cross.
  3. 100% Stacked Line Graph: This is similar to the stacked line chart, but the y-axis shows percentages instead of absolute values. The top line always represents a total of 100%.
  4. Line Graph with Markers: This line chart adds indicators at each data point, making it easier to read.
  5. 3-D Line Graph: This variation of the basic line graph adds a third dimension, making the chart look more three-dimensional.

You can choose the type of line chart that best fits your data and purpose. Just remember to keep it simple and easy to read.

Customizing Excel Line Charts

To make your Excel line chart look better and more professional, you can customize it differently. Here are some simple customizations that you can do:

  1. Adding, changing, or formatting the chart title helps clarify the graph's purpose.
  2. Moving or hiding the chart legend: If you want to hide or move the chart legend, you can easily do it to make your graph less cluttered.
  3. Changing the axis scale or number format helps make the values more readable and understandable.
  4. Showing or hiding the chart gridlines: Gridlines can help to compare data points or can be distracting, so you can choose to show or hide them.
  5. Changing the chart style and colors: You can select different colors and styles to customize your chart.

In addition to these general customizations, you can also make some specific customizations to line charts such as:

  • Adding a trendline to your data to see the trend more clearly.
  • Changing the line style, such as thickness, dashes, and markers.
  • Adding data labels to individual data points to see their exact values.

With these customizations, you can make your Excel line chart more appealing and useful.


How do I create a line graph with multiple data in Excel?

To create a line graph with multiple data in Excel, select the data range, go to the Insert tab, click the Line chart icon, and choose the desired chart subtype.

What is the shortcut to create a line chart in Excel?

The shortcut to create a line chart in Excel is to select the data range and press Alt + F1 on your keyboard.

How do I create a line graph with two points per line in Excel?

To create a line graph with two points per line in Excel, enter your data into two columns, select the range, and create a basic line chart.

How do you make a multiple line graph on sheets?

To make a multiple line graph on Google Sheets, select the data range, click the Chart button in the toolbar, choose the Line chart icon, and configure the chart options.

How do I make a custom line graph in sheets?

To make a custom line graph in Google Sheets, select the chart, click on the Customize tab in the Chart Editor, and make the desired changes to the chart elements, such as title, axes, legend, and colors.

Final Thoughts

Creating a line graph in Excel is a straightforward process that can help you visualize trends and changes over time. 

Following the steps outlined in this guide, you can easily create and customize a line chart that suits your needs. 

Whether you are working with small or large data sets, a line graph can be a useful tool for communicating information effectively.

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