Create and format a line chart in Excel in 5 steps

Contents
  1. If all you need is a line, there are easy tips to use
  2. Creating a Line Chart – Short Version
  3. Version differences
  4. Create a line graph – long version
  5. Create a baseline chart
  6. Formatting a baseline chart: adding a chart title
  7. Don’t click on the wrong part of the chart
  8. Change chart colors using the Chart Tools tabs
  9. Change the background color of a chart
  10. Change text color
  11. Change line color: Formatting on the taskbar
  12. Line color change for Acapulco
  13. Change of Amsterdam
  14. Mesh fade

If all you need is a line, there are easy tips to use

In Microsoft Excel, adding a line chart to a worksheet or workbook creates a visual representation of the data. In some cases, this mapping of the data can reveal trends and changes that would otherwise go unnoticed when the data is buried in rows and columns.

Creating a Line Chart – Short Version

Steps to add a main chart or graph to an Excel sheet:

  1. Enter the data you want to map.

  2. Highlight this data, including row and column headings.

  3. Click on the tab Insert on the tape.

  4. In the Charts section of the ribbon, click the icon Insert Line Chart to open a drop-down list of available chart/plot types.

  5. Move your mouse over a map type to read the map/plot description.

  6. Click on the desired chart.

These steps add a simple, unformatted plot — one that displays only the lines representing the selected data series, default chart title, legend, and axis values ​​— to the current worksheet.

Version differences

The steps in this tutorial use the formatting and layout options available in Excel 2013. They differ from those in earlier versions of the program. Use the following links for tutorials on line charts for other versions of Excel.

  • Tutorial Excel 2010 and 2007 Line Chart

  • Excel 2003 (and earlier) Line Charts Tutorial

Excel, like all Microsoft Office programs, uses themes to customize the look of its documents. Your spreadsheet will differ from the examples in this article, but will not affect the overall functionality of the spreadsheet.

Create a line graph – long version

  1. Enter data in cells A1 C6 as shown in the image above.

  2. Once entered, select a range of cells from A2 before C6

Even if you select a title at the top of the data table, you still need to manually add the title to the chart.

Create a baseline chart

The following steps create a baseline chart that displays the selected data series and axes. You can then use the formatting tools to create a chart to your liking.

  1. Click on the tab Insert on the tape.

  2. In section diagrams ribbon menu click icon Insert Line Chart to open a drop-down list of available chart/chart types.

  3. Hover your mouse over a chart type to read the chart’s description.

  4. Click on icon 2D line graph in the list to select it.

  5. A baseline chart is created and placed on your worksheet as shown below.

Formatting a baseline chart: adding a chart title

Then you can edit the default chart title.

  1. Click once default chart title to select it – a box should appear around the words Chart title

  2. Click a second time to put Excel in edit mode, placing the cursor in the title field.

  3. Delete the default text using the Delete or Backspace keys on your keyboard.

  4. Enter a title for the chart – Average Precipitation (mm) – in the title field.

Don’t click on the wrong part of the chart

Excel has many different parts of a chart, such as a chart title and labels, a chart area with lines representing selected data, horizontal and vertical axes, and horizontal gridlines.

All of these parts are treated as separate objects by the program, so you can format them separately. You tell Excel what part of the chart you want to format by clicking it with your mouse pointer to select it.

If your chart doesn’t look like the one shown in this article, chances are you didn’t select the right side of the chart when you applied the format option.

The most common mistake is to click the chart area in the center of the chart when the entire chart needs to be selected.

The easiest way to select the entire chart is to click in the top left or right corner below the chart title.

If you make a mistake, you can quickly fix it with Excel’s Undo feature. Then click on the correct part of the chart and try again.

Change chart colors using the Chart Tools tabs

When you create a chart or graph in Excel or click on an existing chart, two tabs are added to the ribbon, as shown in the image above.

These “Chart Tools” tabs – “Design and Formatting” – contain formatting and layout options specific to charts, and you can use them to change the background and color of the text on the chart.

Change the background color of a chart

For this plot, formatting the background is a two-step process, as a gradient has been added to show slight horizontal color changes across the plot.

  1. Click next to the chart title to select the entire chart.

  2. Open a tab Format on the tape.

  3. Choose an option fill form shown in the image above, to open the Fill Colors drop-down menu.

  4. Select Black, Text 1, Lighter 35% in the Theme Colors section of the list. (Hover over the palette colors to see the description.)

  5. Press option a second time fill form to open the Colors drop-down menu.

  6. Hover over the option course at the bottom of the list to open the Gradient panel.

  7. Select an option in the Dark Variations section of the panel Linear Left to add a gradient that darkens from left to right across the entire graph.

Change text color

Now that the background is black, the default black text is no longer visible. In this next section, all text on the card changes to white.

  1. Click on the background to select the entire chart.

  2. If necessary, go to the tab Format on the tape.

  3. Click Fill text to open the Text Colors drop-down list.

  4. Select white, background 1 in the Theme Colors section of the list.

  5. All text in the title, x and y axes, and legend should change color to white.

Change line color: Formatting on the taskbar

Using the last two steps of the tutorial format task pane which contains most of the formatting options available for charts.

In Excel 2013, when activated, the panel appears on the right side of the Excel screen, as shown in the image above. The title and options in the panel change depending on the map area selected.

Line color change for Acapulco

  1. In the graph, click once on the orange line to have Acapulco select it – small marks should appear along the entire length of the line.

  2. If necessary, go to the tab Format on the tape.

  3. On the far left of the ribbon, select Format selection to open the formatting toolbar

  4. Since the line for Acapulco was previously selected, the title in the panel should look like Format Data Series.

  5. In the panel, click the icon to fill (paint can) to open a list of stroke options.

  6. In the list of options, click the icon to fill next to the label Color to open the Line Colors drop-down list.

  7. Select Green, Accent 6, Lighter 40% in the Theme Colors section of the list, the line for Acapulco should change to light green.

Change of Amsterdam

  1. Click once on the blue line for Amsterdam on the map to select it.

  2. In the Formatting toolbar, the color of the current fill displayed below the icon should change from green to blue, indicating that the panel is now displaying options for Amsterdam.

  3. Click the icon To fill to open the Line Colors drop-down list.

  4. Select Blue, Accent 1, Lighter 40% in the “Theme Colors” section of the list, the line for Amsterdam should change to light blue.

Mesh fade

Finally, you can also change the format of the gridlines that run horizontally across the chart.

The baseline chart includes these gridlines to make it easier to read values ​​for specific points on the datalines.

However, they shouldn’t be that noticeable. An easy way to reduce them is to adjust the transparency using the Formatting toolbar.

By default, their transparency level is 0%, but as this increases, the gridlines fade into the background where they belong.

  1. If necessary, press the button Format selection on the Format tab on the ribbon to open the formatting task pane.

  2. Click once in the chart grid line 150 mm passing through the center of the graph – all gridlines must be selected (blue dots at the end of each gridline).

  3. In the panel, change the transparency level to 75% – the grid lines on the graph should disappear significantly.

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