How to Make a Line Graph in Google Sheets (Easy Step-by-Step)

Line Graph (also called line chart) is one of the most used charts when it comes to visualizing data in the business world.

It makes it really easy to understand the trend and see how the values are changing over time.

Below is a simple example of a line graph that shows the GDP growth rate of the US in the past 10 years (source).

Line raph Example

Line graphs are quite easy to create in Google Sheets and you can do a lot of customizations to make sure you get the one you need.

In this tutorial, I will show you how to make a line graph in Google Sheets and all the amazing things you can do with it (including creating a combo of a line graph and column chart).

So let’s get started!

How to Make a Simple Line Graph in Google Sheets

Let’s first look at how to create a simple line chart, where we only have one data series. This means that the line chart would only have one single line.

For the purpose of this tutorial, I will use the below dataset to make a line graph in Google Sheets.

Dataset for single line chart

Below are the steps to insert a line chart using the above data:

  1. Select the data-set (you can also just select any cell within the dataset)
  2. In the toolbar, click on the ‘Insert chart’ icon (or go to the Insert option in the menu and then click on Chart).Click on the Insert Chart icon

That’s it!

The above steps would insert the line graph in the worksheet in Google Sheets (as shown below).

Line graph inserted in the worksheet

With the above dataset, Google Sheets automatically inserts a line chart, but that may not always happen.

Google tries to understand the data and gives you the best chart (which it thinks is the best visualization for the data). In case you don’t get a line chart, you can easily change it and get the line graph instead.

Below are the steps to change any other chart type into a line chart:

  1. Select the chart that you want to change into a line chart
  2. Click on the three dots that appear at the top-right part of the chartClick on the three dots at the top left corner
  3. Click on the ‘Edit chart’ option. This will open the ‘Chart editor’ pane on the rightClick on the edit chart option
  4. In the Chart editor pane, click on Setup (if not selected already)
  5. In the Chart type drop-down, select the Line chart optionIn the setup tab, click on the line chart option in the drop down

The above steps would change the existing chart (which is not a line chart) into a line chart.

How to Make a Line Graph with Multiple Lines

In the above section, we looked at a really simple example of inserting a line graph with one line only (as it only has one series of data).

But you can easily create charts where there are two or more than two lines.

Suppose you have the below dataset where we have the net profit figures for two different companies and we want to plot both of these in the same line graph.

Data set for multiple lines line chart

Below are the steps to do this:

  1. Select the data-set (you can also just select any cell within the dataset)
  2. In the toolbar, click on the ‘Insert chart’ icon (or go to the Insert option in the menu and then click on Chart).Click on the Insert Chart icon

The above steps would give you a multiple lines graph as shown below:

Multiple line graph in google sheets

In case you end up with a chart which is not a line chart, you can easily change it from Chart editor (using Chart type drop-down in the Setup tab).

Making a Combination Line Chart (combo of line and column)

So far, we have seen how to make a line graph that only has the lines (be it a single line or multiple lines).

But you can also easily create combination charts where you can have two different types of chart types, i.e., one series will represent the line chart and one will represent the column chart.

Suppose you have a data set as shown below and you want to create a combo chart using it.

dataset for combo chart

Below are the steps to create a line combo chart in Google Sheets:

  1. Select the dataset
  2. In the toolbar, click on the ‘Insert chart’ icon (or go to the Insert option in the menu and then click on Chart).
  3. At this point, your chart may look something as shown below. Since this is not a combo chart, we need to convert this into a combination chartDefault combo chart
  4. In the chart editor, within the Setup tab, click on the ‘Chart type’ drop-down and then click on the Combo chart option.click on the combo chart option in the chart editor

The above steps would insert the combo chart which should look at something as shown below.

Combo chart where both the series are plotted on the same axis

But this is still not what we expected.

The issue with the chart is that it doesn’t help us read the profit margin numbers correctly. Since both, the series uses the same left axis, the Profit Margin values are too low in comparison to the Revenue figures, and hence it shows up so low in the chart.

To correct this, we need to make sure that the revenue and profit numbers are plotted on two different axes (one on the primary axis and one on the secondary axis). This will ensure that both of these are visible.

Below are the steps to add a secondary axis and plot profit figures on the secondary axis:

  1. Click on the chart.
  2. Click on the three dots that appear at the top-right part of the chart.
  3. Click on the Edit chart optionClick on the Edit chart option for the combo chart
  4. In the Chart editor setup, select the Customize tabClick on the Customize option
  5. Click in the series optionClick on the series option
  6. In the drop-down below, select the series that you want to put on the secondary axis. In this example, it would be the Profit seriesApply to the profit series
  7. In the ‘Axis’ option drop-down, select ‘Right axis’Choose the right axis option

That’s it!

The above steps would make the profit series show up properly, as a secondary axis has been added which is used to plot the profit numbers.

Combo chart with one line and one column

Chart Setup and Customization

Now that we know how to create line graphs in Google Sheets, let’s look at some of the customizations you can do with it.

In the Chart editor, there are two options to use for line charts:

  • Chart Setup
  • Chart Customizations
To open the Chart editor, you need to click on the chart and then click in the three dots that appear at the top-right corner of the chart. From the options that show up, click on the ‘Edit chart’ option. This will open the Chart editor pane on the right.

Let’s look at each of these in detail:

Chart Setup

Chart Setup, as the name suggests, helps you set up the chart the way you want.

Chart setup

Below are the options you have when it comes to chart setup:

  • Chart type: Here you can choose what type of chart you want to insert. In case Google Sheets inserts a chart which is not what you want, you can use this option to change it.
  • Data range: This is where you can change the data range used in the chart.
  • X-axis: This is where you can change the X-axis. In our examples, we have used the years in column A as the x-axis, but in case we want to change the axis and use some other series or data range, you can do that from here.
  • Series: This is where you will have all the series that have been plotted on the chart. You can change the existing series or can add new ones from here.
  • Other options: There are some more options that you have when www.trump
    • Switch Rows/Columns: This option changes the rows to columns and columns to rows. By default, this option is disabled
    • Use row 1 as headers: This option allows you to specify if the first row should be used as a header or not. Google Sheets will often set this option for you based on your data set, but in case it’s incorrect and you want to change it, you can do that from here
    • Use column A as labels: Just like the row header, you can also specify whether you want the first column in the selected dataset to be the labels or not. Again, Google Sheets will automatically choose this option based on your dataset, but in case you need to change it, you can do that from here.

Chart Customizations

Once you are done with chart setup, you can also do a lot of customizations with the line graph in Google Sheets.

Chart customization

In this section, we will cover all the chart customization options you have in Google Sheets (these are in the Customize tab in the Chart editor).

Chart Style

In the chart style option, you can change the chart background color, chart border color, as well as the font of the text in the chart.

Apart from that, you also have the following options:

  •  Smooth: When this option is selected, it will make the chart lines look smooth, as compared to the pointed edges you get otherwise. Below is an example of a chart where the lines have been made smooth.
  • Maximize: When this option is selected, it will maximize the chart area in such a way that most of the chart area has been occupied by the chart and there are no margins or padding or extra white space in the chart.
  • Plot null values: In case you have empty cells (null values) in the dataset, these are not plotted by default. If you enable this option, the null values will be plotted in the graph and you will no see any break in the line of the line chart.

Chart axis and titles

This is where you can customize the chart and axis titles of the line chart.

You can change or add the following types of titles:

  • Chart title
  • Chart sub-title
  • Horizontal axis title
  • Vertical axis title

You can also specify the title font, font size, text color and the format of the text (bold/italics)

Series

In the series options, you can change the format of all the series at one go or you can choose a specific series and then change its format only.

You can make the following changes using the series options:

  • Axis (left or right): Here you can change the alignment of the axis and specify whether you want the axis to be on the left or on the right. You can also choose to keep one on the left and one of the right. This is useful when you have data in different values (as in one of our examples where we had revenue and profit margin where the profit margin was in percentage). In this case, it made sense to have a profit margin value on a different axis.
  • Line thickness: Here you can change the thickness of the lines
  • Point Size: Here you can specify if you want to have points in the line that represents the value in the line chart. By default, this is set to none, but you can change the value and make it show up on the graph.
  • Point Shape: You can also choose one of the point shapes. By default, it uses a circle, but you can also choose from other popular ones such as triangle or x-mark.

Apart from these options, you can also add:

When you choose any of the above three options, it will further show you more options for each selected option. For example, when you choose the Error bars option, it will show you more options related to error bars.

Legend

Here you get all the options related to the legend.

You can the following:

  • The position of the legend (top, bottom, left, right, etc.)
  • Legend font
  • Legend font size
  • Legend format (bold or italics)
  • Text color of the legend text

Horizontal and Vertical Axis

Here you get all the customization options related to the horizontal axis.

You can do the following:

  • Change the label font size, font type, and format
  • Reverse the axis order (if you want to show the last data point first and first data point last)
  •  Treat labels as text
  • Change the scale factor (useful when you have values in millions or billions and you want to show these in decimals)
  • Make the labels slant at a certain angle (may be useful when you have too many labels and need some space)
  • Change the number formatting, in case the horizontal axis labels are numbers.

There is also an option to specify the maximum and the minimum value of the axis. This will make sure that all the line chart values remain within the specified range, and in case a value is outside the range that you have specified, it will be out of bounds in the chart.

There is also an option to  “Allow bounds to hide data” which will make sure you don’t see the data that is out of the specified limits in the line chart.

Gridlines

In this option, you can change everything about the gridlines in the line chart.

You can change the number of the major and the minor gridlines in the line chart as well as the color of these gridlines.

So this is how you can make a line graph in Google Sheets and edit and customize it.

I hope you found this tutorial useful.

Other Google Sheets tutorials you may like:

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