Trendlines are used to show the prevailing direction of data. There are four main types of trend lines we are going to take a look at in this section. They are linear, exponential linear, forecast, and moving average. Go beyond trendlines and master all of Excel with our Excel courses in NYC of live online


  1. Linear creates a best fit straight line for linear data sets. This creates a line that shows where the data is trending towards either up or down. But it's a straight line.

  2. Exponential creates a curve line that is useful for data that rises or falls at constantly increasing rates. This line will look more or less like a line and more like a connect the dots type of curve.

  3. Linear forecast creates a linear trend line that forecasts into the future. So, beyond the existing data, you'll start to get a sense of where the data is going to go, where the data is trending in the future.

  4. Moving average creates a line by averaging a specific number of data points. The default is two.

Linear Trendline

So let's now take a look at a linear trend line and exercise one using the chart below. I want to apply a linear trend line to the data. So the first step is to click inside the chart. When we click inside the chart, we'll head over to chart design. The table shows up as soon as you click inside the chart. It won't be there until you do so. Make sure to click inside the chart, preferably in the background.

I'll click chart design. Then I'll head over to the left and she's add chart element because I do want to add an element to this chart that is not already there. And that is going to be trendline when I go to trendline.

Here are the four main options. I'll choose linear when I click outside of the chart and I get a view of the chart. I can see it. I have a linear straight line that shows the data. And the line is sort of like threading the needle between the points. So it's doing its best job to fit within the points in this scatter chart. And that's what this chart is called, by the way.

Exponential Trendline

So now let's take a look at creating an exponential trend line. I'm going to scroll down a little further down the sheet and I'm going to click in the chart. Then I'll head over to chart design or I can click on the plus sign. I can access the chart elements from here as well. This is sort of like mini toolbar for the chart.

I'll head over to trend lines. It's defaulting to linear. That's not what I want. So I'll click the triangle and I'll choose exponential.

And now we have that curve line that is connecting the dots in the scatter chart and gives us a sense of how the data is either rising or falling. In this case, it's rising in this section.

We covered how to work with the trend line element, adding that to the chart.

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