How to make a line graph in Google Sheets

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If you’re looking for a step-by-step guide on how to make a line graph in Google Sheets, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned spreadsheet user, you’ll learn how to leverage charts and graphs to build reports and dashboards.

In this article, you’ll understand what a line graph is, the advantages of using line graphs and its key features. In addition, we’ll walk you through the process of creating eye-catching line charts.

What are line graphs?

Line graphs, also known as line charts, are a visual representation of data points connected by straight lines. They’re particularly effective for displaying trends and variations over a continuous interval or time period. By plotting data points on a graph and connecting them with lines, line graphs provide a clear picture of how values change over time.

What are the advantages of using line graphs?

There are many advantages to using line graphs. Some of the advantages include:

Clarity: the continuous lines connecting data points provide a clear visual representation of how values are changing, making it easy for viewers to identify patterns.

Simplicity: line graphs are simple and intuitive. The concept of connecting points with lines to show trends is easy for a wide audience to understand, making them an ideal choice for presenting complex data in a digestible format.

Effective communication tool: line graphs serve as powerful communication tools, allowing data analysts, researchers, and presenters to convey complex information in a visually compelling and accessible manner. 

Continuous data representation: the smooth lines create a visual flow that enhances the understanding of the data’s progression. For this reason, line graphs are particularly well-suited for representing continuous data, such as changes over time.

Prediction and projections: by extrapolating trends displayed on a line graph, users can make informed predictions and projections about future values. In other words, you can benefit from this forecasting ability in various fields, including finance, sales, and scientific research.

Key features of line graphs

Before we delve into creating line graphs in Google Sheets, let’s explore some key features that make them an essential tool for data representation.

Data points: individual data points represent specific values and are plotted on the graph at corresponding positions. These points serve as the building blocks for the lines that connect them.

X and Y-axis: line graphs have an x-axis (horizontal) and a y-axis (vertical). While the x-axis typically represents time or categories, the y-axis represents the values being measured.

Lines: lines connect the data points, providing a visual representation of the trends in the data. 

Markers: markers on data points or lines enhance visibility. They make it easier to pinpoint specific values and add an extra layer of detail to your graph.

How to make a line graph in Google Sheets

After going over the advantages of using line graphs and their key features, let’s learn how to make a line graph in Google Sheets.

In this example, we’ll use a spreadsheet that contains the annual revenue from 3 branches (Ridgewood, Barclays and Woodside) over the course of 10 years.

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I’ll show you how to make a line graph to compare the revenue for each branch over the years. Click Insert and select Chart.

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Now we can start building the line chart. Select Line chart. Then add the X-axis and the Series. First, I’ll create a chart that shows the revenue from one of the branches. 

Here, the line graph shows a single series of data.

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However, you can also create line graphs that show multiple series of data. By adding multiple series of data, I can compare the revenue from all the branches.

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Customize your chart

After creating the graph, we can customize it to our liking. First, I’ll change the background color.

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Now I’ll add a title, select a font and change the text color.

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When I click on Series, I can edit the lines to customize the color, dash type, thickness, and so on. I’ll add markers to the line plot.

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By selecting Legend, I can customize the legend font, size, format and color. I can also choose where I’ll place it. In this example, I will move the legend to the bottom of the graph.

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In order to help readers better compare the different data series in the line chart, I will need to change the scale of the vertical axis. 

Currently, the axis ranges from 0 to 12.5 million, which compresses the lines and makes it harder to see the contrasts and differences between the values. To improve this, I will set the minimum value on the vertical axis to 4 million and the maximum value to 11 million. 

Expanding the scale in this way will spread out the data lines and make it easier to analyze the variations between each series. As a result, this will highlight the peaks, valleys, and overall patterns in each line, enabling readers to quickly grasp where one series is rising while another is declining. This is a simple yet effective way to improve the readability of this multi-series line chart.

As you can see, it is now much easier to visualize the contrast between the multiple series.

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Now we can add, remove and format the gridlines and ticks. I’ll remove the major gridlines.

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Last but not least, I’ll switch to an area chart to make it more visually appealing.

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There you have it! With just a few clicks, we have built a line graph, adding multiple series and customizing it to make it easier for readers to analyze and interpret the chart.

If you want to create a bar graph instead, check out this article on how to create a bar chart in Google Sheets.

Ready to streamline your spreadsheet data?

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