Adding a trend line

When you're plotting data over time, you may want to plot a trend line that describes the data. A trend line points out general trends in your data.
Chart with a Trend Line in Excel 2016

Excel makes adding a trend line to a chart quite simple. To add a trendline do one of the following:

  • In popup menu select Add Trendline...:
    popup to add trend line in Excel 2016
  • Select a data series, Excel displays the Chart Tools, adding the Design and Format tabs:
    The Chart Tools in Excel 2016

    On the Design tab, in the Chart Layouts group, click the Add Chart Element icon and choose Trendline list:

    Add Chart Element in Excel 2016

The type of trend line that you choose depends on your data. Linear trends are most common, but some data can be described more effectively with another type. If necessary, you can fine-tune the trendline settings from the Format Trendline task pane:

Format Trendline in Excel 2016

One of the options in the Trendline Options group is Moving Average, which is useful for smoothing out data that has a lot of variation (that is, "noisy" data). The Moving Average option enables you to specify the number of data points to include in each average. For example, if you select 5, Excel averages every five data points.

The Trendline Options group enables you to specify a name to appear in the legend and the number of periods that you want to forecast. Additional options let you set the intercept value, specify that the equation used for the trend line should appear on the chart, and choose whether the R-squared value appears on the chart.

Delete a trendline

Click the trendline you want to delete and then press Delete.