Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Reading Values from Graphs.

Reading Values from Graphs

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated January 15, 2022)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021


When creating charts from Excel data, you can smooth out the lines between data points by using any number of methods. At some point, you may want to actually figure out how Excel does its calculations to determine where to actually plot points along the line. Rather than visually trying to figure out where a point falls,

If you are using Excel 2013 or a later version, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click on the data series in question. Excel displays a Context menu.
  2. Choose the Add Trendline option from the Context menu. Excel displays the Format Trendline pane at the right side of the screen. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Format Trendline task pane.

  4. Make sure the regression type you want to use is selected.
  5. Make sure the Display Equation on Chart check box is selected.
  6. Close the task pane.

If you are using Excel 2007 or Excel 2010, the steps are different only in that Excel uses a dialog box instead of a task pane:

  1. Right-click on the data series in question. Excel displays a Context menu.
  2. Choose the Add Trendline option from the Context menu. Excel displays the Format Trendline dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  3. Figure 2. The Format Trendline dialog box.

  4. Make sure the regression type you want to use is selected.
  5. Make sure the Display Equation on Chart check box is selected.
  6. Click on OK.

The result is that Excel shows a formula, on the chart, that represents how it calculated each point along the line. You can then use this formula to determine points, as well. No more guessing! Once you know the formula, you can turn off the formula display if you want it off.

If you would like to know the different formulas that Excel uses for different types of trend lines, you can use the online Help system to search for "equations for calculating trendlines."

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (10698) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Reading Values from Graphs.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Dealing with Circular References

Circular references occur when a formula includes a reference to the cell in which the formula appears. Here's how you ...

Discover More

Grouping Drawing Objects

Drawing objects are easily added to a document. You can group these objects so they are easier to manage by following the ...

Discover More

Changing Months in a Workbook

When you copy a worksheet and then need to make changes to information in that worksheet (such as changing month names), ...

Discover More

Professional Development Guidance! Four world-class developers offer start-to-finish guidance for building powerful, robust, and secure applications with Excel. The authors show how to consistently make the right design decisions and make the most of Excel's powerful features. Check out Professional Excel Development today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Removing a Trendline Error Message

Excel allows you to add trendlines to your charted data. It is possible, though, that lately you've been seeing a ...

Discover More

Negatives in Pie Charts

Pie charts are a great way to graphically display some types of data. Displaying negative values is not so great in pie ...

Discover More

RGB Values for Automatic Colors

When you create a chart, Excel automatically assigns different colors to the various data series in the chart. At some ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is one more than 7?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.