How to add a line to column chart? [Charting trick]
Let’s say you work in super hero factory as floor manager. You are looking at the recent time sheet data submitted by your underlings and want to know who works more. So you did what any self respecting floor manager does. You made yourself a large cup of hot chocolate, whipped open Excel and created a column chart.
But now, you want to add a line to it at 6:00 PM (or some other arbitrary point) so you can clearly see which superheros are over working.
So how do you go about it?
Adding a line to column charts – Tutorial
This tutorial assumes you have a column chart. If you have a bar chart, you should use vertical error bars in step 6.
 In a cell, enter the value for your line. Say this is in C15 (and it has 6:00 PM)
 Add this extra point to your chart. At this stage you will get this.
 Take a sip of that scrumpdillycious hot chocolate.
 Convert the new series to as XY chart. Just right click on it and select “Change series chart type”.
 Add error bars to this new dot
 Excel adds both vertical & horizontal bars. We just need horizontal line. So remove vertical (Y) error bars.
Note: if you are adding the line to bar chart, remove X error bars instead.  Set error bar value to 7 (same as number of categories – 1)
 Format the error bar
 Set error bar to plus side only
 Remove cap
 Set the line color and thickness
 Remove marker symbol (set it to no marker) so we have only line
 Chug the rest of your hot chocolate, we are done!
Video tutorial – How to add a line to column chart
Watch this quick video tutorial on how to add a line to column chart to understand this process better.
You can also watch this video on Chandoo.org Youtube channel.
Download Example Workbook – Column chart with a line
Please click here to download example workbook. Play with the input data to see the chart change. Try to recreate the chart from scratch to master this technique.
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Unleash the super hero in you by learning few charting tricks and tips. Start with below, but be warned though. Everyone is going to love your charts.
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How would you add a line to column charts?
Using error bars to add a horizontal line (or vertical) is just one of the many ways to do this. How would you add a line to column charts? Please share your techniques in the comments section.
Hello Awesome...
My name is Chandoo. Thanks for dropping by. My mission is to make you awesome in Excel & your work. I live in Wellington, New Zealand. When I am not F9ing my formulas, I cycle, cook or play lego with my kids. Know more about me.
I hope you enjoyed this article. Visit Excel for Beginner or Advanced Excel pages to learn more or join my online video class to master Excel.
Thank you and see you around.

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17 Responses to “How to add a line to column chart? [Charting trick]”
Functionality is good.
I wish you should display the Version of Excel that you are Demonstrating.
I have Excel 2010 and it doesn't contain Error Bars.
If I am wrong please let me know.
Appreciate all you do and thanks for educating the community.
Kris,
Excel 2010 does have Error Bars. Select your chart > Layout tab on the ribbon> Error Bars
Hope this helps
Darran
Super simple: Add a line chart element to the chart and link to a new data set, all with same value for each superhero, hence displaying as a straight line.
I would prefer to add a third series, all 06:00 PM, and then change it to a line chart. It will give the same result.
Sunny Kow
http://www.andypope.info/charts/averageline.htm
How would you add a range, say 56 shaded in light red for example?
Any ideas?
Hi Richard,
This gets complicated, as you need a number of series and then get creative with formatting. Will need a series for 5pm, for 6pm and a dummy series as well.
Once you got that, go to either http://peltiertech.com/excelchartswithhorizontalbands/ or http://peltiertech.com/fillunderbetweenseriesinexcelchart/ and make sure you have a double shot of really strong hot chocolate.
Chandoo, why not only add third series as @Sunny Kow already suggested?
What is the difference?
As I mentioned in the video, there are many ways to do this. I believe, I have covered the third series technique in a previous video or post. So I wanted to showcase the error bar technique. Also, the line chart method won't work with bar charts (as lines need different X/ category values). Hope that helps.
To avoid the need to repeat the target time for every person and still end up with a line that runs all the way across the chart, follow these steps. Note: this line will truly extend all the way across the chart instead of stopping in the middle of the first and last categories as happens with Chandoo's example.
Plot/move the new series to the secondary axes.
Turn off the secondary vertical, leaving the secondary horizontal turned on but not shown (all display elements set to None) and with the setting to "Position Axis: On tick marks."
From the Select Data dialog, enter the series (y) values for the line as =(SheetName!$C$15,SheetName!$C$15) or simply click that cell twice using the Ctrl key. Including the parentheses is important in allowing you to repeat the cell address.
It will not be necessary to enter anything for the category (x) values.
Yeah... I'm really confused why the secondary axis approach wasn't used.
what he said, exactly the way I'd do it and for those reasons
and if you make the line really thick and semitransparent, then you've got a band
My boss wanted exactly this and I was looking for this...It gave the quick solution to my problem...Thanks!!
Thanks...thanks...gave the speedy answer for my issue
thanks for this post...it really useful for us...
Hi Chandoo,
This is super helpful. Thanks for the post.
On the other hand, are there any ways to make the line start from the left side of the first bar (the left side of the blue bar of Batman)?
Thank you in advance!