Published on

May 2, 2024


How To Make a Line Chart in Google Sheets (+ Enhance it With AI)

Learn how to make a line chart in Google Sheets with ease and customize it to your liking. Plus, how to give your visualizations a level up with AI!
Giorgio Barilla
Digital Marketing Specialist

Line charts are one of the most common yet powerful visualization tools used to display trends over time or compare multiple data sets. With Google Sheets' robust graphing capabilities, you can create beautiful, customizable line graphs that effectively communicate insights from your spreadsheet data.

In this detailed guide, you'll learn step-by-step methods for constructing basic to advanced line charts in Google Sheets, complete with plenty of examples and best practices for data visualization. Follow along to become an expert in visualizing time-series statistics and crafting interactive line graphs that bring your data to life.

Now let's build line charts in Google Sheets!

Key Takeaways

  • Line charts connect a series of data points with straight line segments to show trends and patterns clearly. They excel at visualizing time-series statistics over a period of time.
  • Google Sheets provides a user-friendly workflow for turning spreadsheet data into stunning line graphs, along with extensive formatting options through the Chart Editor.
  • You can depict one or multiple data series on the same line chart, customize colors, labels, axes, data point icons, and more to highlight key information.
  • If you want to take your graph generation capabilities a step further, AI-powered tools like Akkio can help.

Creating a Basic Line Chart

The starting point for any impactful line graph is the underlying data set. So first, you need to select the right dataset and format it properly before inserting your initial line chart in Google Sheets.

Selecting Your Data Source

Dummy dataset of website analytics generated by ChatGPT

The first step is choosing your data range - this provides the foundation for your line chart. Here are some tips for picking the right dataset:

  • Identify the primary value categories - What metrics are you trying to visualize over time? Common examples are revenue, expenses, sales quantity etc. These go into the value columns.
  • Add the time elements - The independent timescale goes into the first column, with successive data points in subsequent columns. For a daily analysis over a year, your columns would represent each day sequentially.
  • No gaps - Ensure your data is continuous over the period with no gaps in the timeline, otherwise the lines will break. Temporary missing values should have zeros entered.
  • Format properly - The data must be numeric values only, not text or dates. For times, input the serial date-time value. Format this properly before inserting a chart.

For a practical example, we used ChatGPT Code Interpreter to generate a demo dataset of website traffic. You can also find relevant datasets on Kaggle if you prefer to work with real data.

Inserting a Basic Line Chart

selecting insert and then chart to generate a line chart

Creating a line chart from your prepared dataset is simple:

  1. Select the data range - Include both the independent labels (e.g. timeline) as well as the data series columns.
  2. Navigate to Insert > Chart. Alternatively, use the Chart icon in the toolbar.
  3. Google Sheets will automatically plot the data, with the first column for axis labels. Change the chart type to Line in the top right corner if it's not selected by default.

And you have an instant line graph generated from the spreadsheet data!

Now let's customize this to perfection.

Customizing the Basic Chart

The built-in Chart Editor provides exceptional control over chart formatting and design in Google Sheets when you create line graphs.

Access the editor by clicking the three dots icon for the chart or double click on it. Common tweaks include:

Editing the legend in a Google Sheets line graph
  • Edit chart and axis titles - Double click the defaults to add descriptive titles.
  • Legend - Format legend labels, position, text size etc.
  • Line styles - Alter thickness, color, dot style of each series' line.
  • Add data labels showing the actual values next to plot points.
  • Descriptive main and axis titles explaining the data.
  • Legend positioned at the bottom with custom label.

And hundreds more styling combinations are possible!

For example, here we added the R2, decreased line opacity, and added a bit of styling to the font and colors. As you can see, it's easy to give personality to a line chart:

Constructing Multi-Line Charts

Another common application is adding multiple lines to compare trends across items, like revenue streams. This is done by extending your data and assigning additional columns as series.

For this example, we generated a dataset with revenue stream for 3 products, A, B, and C.

dummy data on revenue by product generated by ChatGPT

Formatting Multiple Lines

The true power comes from customizing each line independently to showcase the data effectively.

Using the Chart Editor, click a series line, then tailor properties like:

  • Color and thickness - Emphasize important trends.
  • Line style - Dashed, dotted lines.
  • Data point icon - Shape, size, color.
  • Data labels - Call out values directly.

This multi-line chart visualizes showcases the revenue by product:

a multi line chart

The crucial line chart elements are:

  1. Legend distinguishing the multiple metrics plotted.
  2. Dashed profit line in contrasting color.
  3. Larger data point markers make trends apparent even from a distance.

Enhancing Your Line Charts

You can take the visualization farther by adding trendlines, data point labels, reference lines, and other handy chart elements available in Google Sheets.

Styling Your Chart

Don't stop at trendlines and labels. Google Sheets enables extensively formatting your line chart's visual styling.

Explore options like:

  • Chart styles - Choose color palettes and styles.
  • Backgrounds - Color, gradient, image fill styles.
  • Chart area - Border, fill colors.
  • Legend - Inside or outside plot, position, labels etc.

Fine-tune the appearance until your line graph effectively conveys trends in an instant through its beauty and clarity.

Best Practices for Impactful Line Charts

Follow these key principles for creating effective, attractive line charts that clearly communicate trends:

Choose Appropriate Visuals

So... avoid this

Ask if straight lines effectively represent your message. Consider column or bar charts for part-to-whole comparisons instead. Or pie charts to depict composition.

We have a whole guide on Google Sheets Data Visualization.

Format for Accessibility

Use sufficiently thick lines, limited colors, strong visual contrast between elements. Avoid crowded plots or intricate details. Optimize for clarity.

Draw Attention to Key Points

Emphasize important plot points with data labels, reference lines, annotated text boxes. Guide the viewer.

Maintain Data Integrity

Avoid broken axes, sparse data markers, or gridlines that overpower trends. Show complete pictures without distortions.

Building stunning yet accurate line charts takes both science and art. Leverage these tips to find the right balance for impactful data storytelling.

Enhance Graphs with AI

It's 2024, and if you want to supercharge your data storytelling and analytics you should consider AI solutions. Some integrate with Sheets itself, like GPT for Sheets, while others empower you to do more in a dedicated AI data platform.

One such solution is Akkio, where agencies create end-to-end workflows to uncover hidden gems in large datasets, report to clients in a white label environment, and predict future success of marketing campaigns starting from a plethora of integrations.

Give it a try today. It's free, no credit card required!


And with that, you should have a firm grasp on constructing stunning line charts in Google Sheets!

When visualizing data, it's essential to choose the right type of chart. Line graphs are excellent for highlighting trends by connecting data points, while bar or column charts are more suited for comparing different categories.

To enhance the impact of your charts, consider customizing various elements such as separate lines, axes ranges, data labels, icons, and colors.

As a final side note, we host a free Google Sheets Formula Generator if you ever need help coming up with complex formulas while cleaning up your data for a line chart.

Have fun applying your newfound knowledge!

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