Line charts are essential for trend analysis, comparison over time, spotting distribution or volatility in your data. In this page, let me introduce 6 powerful line chart variations to help you with business data analysis. These are,
Line Chart Variations - Video
In the below video, I explain 6 line chart variations with instructions on how to create and work with them. Watch it or read on for the chart details.
Indexed Line Chart
Indexed charts are great for comparing apples with oranges. For example, you can compare sales of two products over a period of time with Indexed Chart, even if the sales numbers are in different ballparks (one sells in millions, other in thousands).
Here is a demo of indexed line chart.
Sparklines are tiny charts that you can fit in a cell. They pack a lot of information and help in visualizing more items.
Here is a sparkline demo:
Spaghetti Line Chart
Often we have too many lines and that can be distracting. Use a spaghetti line chart to drive focus to one of the lines. You can make them interactive so users can pick the noodle they want to taste.
Here is a demo of interactive spaghetti chart.
Smoothed Line Chart
Sometimes our data is too volatile. In such cases, you can smooth it to spot the trend and meaningful changes.
There are various ways to smooth line charts. You can use “Smooth line” option of the chart or apply moving average based smoothing.
Here is a demo of both techniques.
Forecast Line Chart
Use Excel’s FORECAST.ETS() and other suite of functions to create forecasts from your data and visualize them. You can analyze trend and seasonality of the data with these functions. Forecast charts are helpful in business reporting.
Here is a demo of a forecast line chart.
Line Chart Combinations
No matter how hard you try, sometime a line alone won’t do. In those cases, you can easily combine line charts with other visualizations in Excel. Combination Charts are very easy to create.
Here is a demo of line chart with column combination.
How to create combination charts?
- In new versions of Excel (365, 2016+), just go to Insert ribbon and click on Combo chart button (the one that looks like a line column combination).
- In earlier versions of Excel, just make a line chart, right click on the line that you want to change to something else and select “Change series chart type” option.
Don't forget the labels ...
You can make regular or any of the variations listed above better by adding sensible labels and chart titles that tell a story.
Here is a demo of special labels on line charts.
Download Line Chart Variations Workbook
Click here to download the Excel file with all these variations. Play with the data or charts to learn more about these 6 line charts.
If you have any questions or suggestions, post them in the comments section.