How to Make a Line Graph That Compares Two Things in Excel

Written by shawn mcclain
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How to Make a Line Graph That Compares Two Things in Excel
Each data set gets its own line on an Excel graph. (Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Microsoft Excel 2010 contains dozens of different graph and chart types so you can visualise your data in a wide variety of formats. The line chart is excellent at comparing two sets of data, since each set gets plotted as a line running across the chart. Excel 2010 has made creating charts fairly simple. All you need to do is enter your data into the spreadsheet and select the type of chart you want to create. Excel handles everything else.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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  1. 1

    Open a new Microsoft Excel 2010 spreadsheet.

  2. 2

    Click on cell "B1." Enter the name of the first set of data you want to include in your graph. This name will appear as a label next to the line on the graph. Click on cell "C1" and do the same for the second set of data.

  3. 3

    Click on cell "A2." Enter the X-axis labels into the cells in this column. While the "Y-axis" in a line graph is always numerical, the X-axis can display numbers, dates, times or even text.

  4. 4

    Enter your data into the cells just under the headers in columns "B" and "C."

  5. 5

    Click any cell in your data table. Select the "Insert" tab at the top of the screen. Click the "Line" button under "Charts" and choose one of the line chart types. You can choose a regular line chart, on which each line is plotted based on its value; a stacked line chart, on which the second data set is added to the first; and a 100 per cent stacked chart, on which each line is plotted as a percentage of the sum of the lines. Click your selection to create the chart. Excel automatically colours the lines differently to provide contrast between the two data sets.

Tips and warnings

  • When you choose a line graph, you can choose to either have the graph with markers, or without markers. If you choose to have markers on your graph, each line will have dots on it that correspond to the actual values in your data set. If you choose not to use markers on your graph, only the line will display.
  • You can also choose to create a 3D ribbon graph. This is the same as a regular line graph without markers, but displays as a three-dimensional ribbon.

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