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6 Must Know Line Chart variations for Data Analysis



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.

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:

sparklines 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.

spaghetti line chart - demo

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.

smoothed line chart

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.

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.

column line combo chart

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.

line chart with special labels

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.


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One Response to “6 Must Know Line Chart variations for Data Analysis”

  1. Daniel says:

    Thanks for the insight about the excel charts! It is very important these days to visualize our data in the best way for other people to see.

    The flexible data manipulation using formulas or VBAs also allows you to make seriously interactive charts. In my opinion, learning those things can surely help you in visualizing excel data.

    Do you have some suggestions what formulas or VBAs command to learn for that?

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