How to draw a line graph

Written by matt scheer
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How to draw a line graph
Line graphs display data clearly. (business line graph image by Nicemonkey from Fotolia.com)

A line graph is used to visually represent the progression of data. These graphs are used frequently by scientists to show experiment results or by businesses to present information to employees or clients. Information displayed in a graph is labelled clearly and gives a concise overview of data collected. Line graphs show one set of data or they compare data by having multiple lines on one graph. Colors and labels are used to create a distinction between different data. Line graphs are simple to make once you know some basic graphing rules.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Data
  • Graph paper
  • Ruler
  • Pencil

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Collect data for the graph. A line graph has two sets of data: independent and dependent. An independent variable is something like time (minutes, seconds, years) that is constant. A dependent variable changes based on the independent variable.

  2. 2

    Draw a square box with a ruler which will contain the graph. The bottom of the box is the x-axis (independent value). The left side of the box is the y-axis (dependent value). Label each axis based on the data. For example, if you are graphing time (seconds) versus position (centimetres), label the x-axis "time (secs.)" and the y-axis "position (cm.)." It is important to label each axis clearly so a reader knows what the numbers represent.

  3. 3

    Determine the range of data for each axis. If you are measuring in time in seconds, look at the highest and lowest value. If your data ranges from 10 to 137 seconds, a range containing both of the numbers is 0 to 150. Mark each axis with the range. The lowest number goes in the bottom left corner and the highest number goes at the end of whichever axis you are labelling.

  4. 4

    Divide the range equidistantly with tick marks. Label each mark. To determine how to break up the range, look at the data to see the normal frequency at which numbers occur.

  5. 5

    Label the graph with a title. Position the title centred, above the top line of the box. The graph title is usually "y versus x". Using the values from the previous steps, this title is "Position Versus Time". All the words in a title are capitalised.

  6. 6

    Plot the data on the graph. Each coordinate has an x value and a y value. To plot the point, find the "x" value on the x-axis and move straight up until you are across from the corresponding "y" value on the y-axis. Draw a small dot on the graph in this position. Continue to do this until all the data is plotted.

  7. 7

    Connect the lines with a ruler. Drawing a line between the points helps the viewer to see the progression of the data.

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