How to Plot Multiple Lines on an Excel Graphby John Michael Thomas
When you create a line chart in Microsoft Excel, your chart may display only a single plot line. It's often helpful, however, to plot two or more lines on the same chart, for example you may have multiple data series that were collected at the same time, or you want to compare data taken at different times. To create an Excel chart with multiple lines, create a new chart with multiple plot lines or add plot lines to an existing chart.
Create a New Chart With Multiple Lines
Enter Your Data
If you already have a spreadsheet with data entered into columns, skip to the next step (Create Your Chart, below).
Step 1: Enter the labels for each of the data series
In the first row of the worksheet, enter the labels for each of the data series to plot. Since each data series (the data for each separate line to be plotted) must be in a separate column, you must enter the labels for each data series in a separate column on the first row. Excel uses the labels in the first row of each column to label the lines in the chart for the data in that column.
Step 2: Enter your data
Enter your data into each of your columns, in the rows below the labels.
Here's an example worksheet showing two data series. The data for each series is in a separate column, and the label to display on the chart for each is in the first row of each column.
Step 3: Create Your Chart
1. Select all the cells in each column that contain your data.
2. On the Office Ribbon select the Insert tab, click on Line in the Charts section of the ribbon, and then select the type of chart you want to create.
Excel creates a new chart that displays a separate plot line for each column of data.
Add a Line to an Existing Chart
Step 1: Enter your new data
Enter or copy and paste the data for the new plot line into the column immediately to the right of the original data. Make sure to add a label to the first row of the new column so the chart can display a label for the new plot line.
Step 2: Select the chart
Click on the chart that displays the original data to select it.
Step 3: Edit the Chart data range
Right-click on the chart and choose Select Data... from the pop-up menu. Alternately, click Select Data from the Data section of the Office Ribbon in the Chart Tools Design tab.
The Select Data Source dialog opens. The data displayed in the chart is shown in the Chart data range field.
4. In the Chart data range field, change the last letter of the displayed range, to make it match the letter of the last column of the new data.
In the example, the Chart data range displays =Sheet2!$A$1:$A$12, but the new column of data is column $B. So the last A (in the cell reference $A$12) must be changed to a B. The resulting Chart data range displays =Sheet2!$A$1:$B$12.
After changing the Chart data range, press the OK button. The chart updates to display an additional plot line for the new data.