Displaying Trendlines in Excel Charts
by Avantix Learning Team | Updated February 18, 2021
Applies to: Microsoft® Excel® 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019 and 365 (Windows)
In Microsoft Excel, you have the ability to add one or more trendlines to a chart and to project future results. This article is the second in a series of simple ways to show trends in your Excel data.
Recommended articles: Simple Strategies to Show Trends in Excel (Part 1) and (Part 3)
Creating a chart in Excel
The first thing you will need to do is enter enough data in a worksheet with consistent intervals (i.e. weekly, monthly or yearly) to display a trend.
To create a chart:
- Select the data you wish to chart.
- Click the Insert tab in the Ribbon.
- In the Charts group, click the Chart type you would like to create and choose a chart type from the drop-down list. An embedded chart will be added to the sheet.
- Click the chart. Note the Chart Tools tabs that now appear in the Ribbon. Use the tabs to format the chart or change the chart type.
- If there is only one data series, you can remove the legend by clicking its edge and pressing Delete.
Adding a trendline to a chart
To add a trendline:
- Click the chart.
- Select the data series where you wish to display a trendline (usually this involves clicking a column to select the column series or on a line to select a line series).
- Click the Chart Tools Layout tab.
- In the Analysis group, click Trendline. A drop-down menu appears.
- Choose the desired type of trendline or click More Trendline Options for other choices, make a choice and click Close. A trendline appears.
Types of trendlines
There are a several different types of trendlines:
- Use a linear trendline for simple data. If your data works best with a straight line, use a linear trendline which represents a steady rate of increase or decrease.
- Use a logarithmic trendline for data that starts with a sharp change and levels out.
- Use a moving average trendline for rapidly fluctuating data such as stock prices. This type of trendline smooths out the fluctuations to show the overall trend.
- Use a polynomial trendline for gradually fluctuating data. Whereas a moving average trendline suppresses individual fluctuations, a polynomial trendline makes them stand out.
- Use a power trendline when working with measurements that increase at specific rates (such as truck accelerations) and all data values are greater than zero.
- Use an exponential trendline for data that rises or falls at rates that increase constantly.
To format a trendline:
- Click the trendline.
- Right-click it and choose Format Trendline.
- Choose the desired options.
- Click Close.
Displaying the R-squared value
You can display the R-squared value which indicates how closely your trendline follows your data. The closer the value is to 1, the closer it follows your data. Select the R-squared value check box in the Format Trendline dialog box.
You can move the R-squared value to another location on the chart by clicking on it to display sizing handles. Point to one of the handles and drag with the left mouse button to a new location.
Projecting a trend
You can project a trend forward, backward or both.
To add a forward projection to a trendline:
- Click the trendline.
- Right-click and choose Format Trendline.
- Enter a number in the Forward field of the Forecast section to project a trend forward.
- Click Close.
Trendlines are simple to add to your charts to show trends in Excel.
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