Video: Insert a line chart

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Quickly add a line chart to your presentation, and see how to arrange the data to get the result you want. Customize chart elements, apply a chart style and colors, and insert a linked Excel chart.

Add a line chart to a presentation in PowerPoint

Use a line chart to compare data and show trends over time. When you need a line chart in a presentation, use PowerPoint to create it, if the data is relatively simple and won’t need frequent updates (otherwise, see Copy an Excel chart to another Office program). Here is how:

  1. Click INSERT > Chart.

  2. Click the chart type, and then, double-click the chart you want. For help deciding which chart is best for your data, see Available chart types.

  3. In the spreadsheet that appears, replace the default data with your own information.

  4. When you have finished, close the spreadsheet.

Want more?

Change the format of data labels in a chart

Copy an Excel chart to another Office program

Use a line chart to compare data and show trends over time.

In this chart, we compare the Average Precipitation in New York and Seattle at four points in the year, from January to October.

A line marker and exact number show at those points along the lines.

The data values show along the vertical axis, and the times of measurement, individual months, appear along the horizontal axis.

When you need a line chart in a presentation, use PowerPoint to create it, if the data is relatively simple and won’t need frequent updates.

If, on the other hand, your data is complex, or you plan to update it frequently, create the chart in Excel, and copy it into the PowerPoint.

We cover this in Movie 3, Insert a linked Excel line/chart.

To create a line chart in PowerPoint, on the HOME tab, click the arrow next to New Slide, and Blank to insert a blank slide.

Then click INSERT and Chart, and choose Line.

When I point to the default line chart, I see a larger preview.

Let’s look at these other line charts. When I point to one, a screen tip appears and describes the chart.

I think Line with Markers is the one I want. So, I’ll click it for a preview.

Then, I’ll point for the larger view. Yes, that’s it. I’ll click OK.

The chart is inserted, and a small window, with placeholder data, appears. We’ll type our data here.

Let’s start with the categories, where we’ll type the names of the months.

I click the cell and type: January, then April, July, and October, and I press Enter.

The names appear in the chart.

For the series, we’ll first type headings for the data: New York and Seattle, and press Enter.

We don’t have a third series to compare, so I’ll point to the D column and click to select it, right-click, and press Delete.

Now I’ll type in the data. For New York, I click the first cell and type the number, which is 3.65 inches, and press Enter.

In the chart, the line for New York updates to reflect the new value.

I have typed in the Average Precipitation data for New York. Now, I’ll type the data for Seattle.

We have now typed in our data, so I’ll click X to close the data window. And I’ll Zoom in a little to see the chart better.

The series headings, New York and Seattle, appear in the legend, and the lines reflect our data, with markers showing at the monthly points.

The value increments, for inches, were automatically calculated, and show along the vertical axis.

Up next: Customize a line chart.

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