How to Create a Line Graph in Excel 2010

How to Make a Line Graph in Excel 2010

Ted French

Line graphs are often used to plot changes in data over time, such as monthly temperature changes or daily changes in stock market prices. They can also be used to plot data recorded from scientific experiments, such as how a chemical reacts to changing temperature or atmospheric pressure.

Similar to most other graphs, line graphs have a vertical axis and a horizontal axis. If you are plotting changes in data over time, time is plotted along the horizontal or x-axis and your other data, such as rainfall amounts is plotted as individual points along the vertical or y-axis.

When the individual data points are connected by lines, they clearly show changes in your data - such as how a chemical changes with changing atmospheric pressure. You can use these changes to find trends in your dada and possibly to predict future results. Following the steps in this tutorial walks you through creating and formatting the line graph seen in the image above.

Version Differences

The steps in this tutorial use the formatting and layout options available in Excel 2010 and 2007. These differ from those found in other versions of the program, like Excel 2013, Excel 2003, and earlier versions.

01
of 06

Entering the Graph Data

Excel Line Graph

Ted French

For help with these instructions, see the image example above

No matter what type of chart or graph you are creating, the first step in creating an Excel chart is always to enter the data into the worksheet.

When entering the data, keep these rules in mind:

  1. Don't leave blank rows or columns when entering your data.
  2. Enter your data in columns.
  • When laying out your spreadsheet, list the names describing the data in one column and, to the right of that, the data itself.
  • If there is more than one data series, list them one after the other in columns with the title for each data series at the top.

For this tutorial

  1. enter the data located in step 8.
02
of 06

Select the Line Graph Data

Excel Line Graph

Ted French

There are two options for selecting the graph data:

Using the mouse

  1. Drag select with the mouse button to highlight the cells containing the data to be included in the line graph.

Using the keyboard

  1. Click on the top left of the line graph's data.
  2. Hold down the SHIFT key on the keyboard.
  3. Use the arrow keys on the keyboard to select the data to be included in the line graph.

Note: Be sure to select any column and row titles that you want included in the graph.

For this tutorial

  1. Highlight the block of cells from A2 to C6, which includes the column titles and the row headings
03
of 06

Selecting a Line Graph Type

Excel Line Graph

Ted French

For help with these instructions, see the image example above.

  1. Click on the Insert ribbon tab.
  2. Click on a chart category to open the drop-down list of available graph types (Hovering your mouse pointer over a graph type will bring up a description of the graph).
  3. Click on a graph type to select it.

For this tutorial

  1. Choose Insert > Line > Line with Markers.
  2. A basic line graph is created and placed on your worksheet. The following pages cover formatting this graph to match the line graph shown in Step 1 of this tutorial.
04
of 06

Formatting the Line Graph - 1

Excel Line Graph

Ted French

 

When you click on a graph, three tabs - the Design, Layout, and Format tabs are added to the ribbon under the title of Chart Tools.

Choosing a style for the line graph

  1. Click on the line graph.
  2. Click on the Design tab.
  3. Choose Style 4 of the Chart Styles

Adding a title to the line graph

  1. Click on the Layout tab.
  2. Click on Chart Title under the Labels section.
  3. Select the third option - Above Chart.
  4. Type in the title "Average Precipitation (mm)"

Changing the font color of the graph title

  1. Click once on Graph Title to select it.
  2. Click on the Home tab on the ribbon menu.
  3. Click on the down arrow of the Font Color option to open the drop-down menu.
  4. Choose Dark Red from under the Standard Colors section of the menu.

Changing the font color of the graph legend

  1. Click once on Graph Legend to select it.
  2. Repeat steps 2 - 4 above.

Changing the font color of the axis labels

  1. Click once on the month's labels below the horizontal X axis to select them.
  2. Repeat steps 2 - 4 above.
  3. Click once on numbers beside the vertical Y axis to select them.
  4. Repeat steps 2 - 4 above.
05
of 06

Formatting the Line Graph - 2

Excel Line Graph

Ted French

 

Coloring the graph background

  1. Click on the graph background.
  2. Click on the Shape Fill option to open the drop-down menu.
  3. Choose Red, Accent 2, Lighter 80 % from the Theme Colors section of the menu.

Coloring the plot area background

  1. Click on one of the horizontal grid lines to select the plot area of the graph.
  2. Choose the Shape Fill > Gradient > From Center option from the menu.

Beveling the graph edge

  1. Click on the graph to select it.
  2. Click on the Shape Fill option to open the drop-down menu.
  3. Choose Bevel > Cross from the menu.

At this point, your graph should match the line graph shown in Step 1 of this tutorial.

06
of 06

Line Graph Tutorial Data

Enter the data below in the cells indicated to create the line graph covered in this tutorial.

Cell - Data
A1 - Average Precipitation (mm)
A3 - January
A4 - April
A5 - July
A6 - October
B2 - Acapulco
B3 - 10
B4 - 5
B5 - 208
B6 - 145
C2 - Amsterdam
C3 - 69
C4 - 53
C5 - 76
C6 - 74