How to Add Linear Regression Trendline to Excel Graphs and Charts

Key Takeaways:

  • A linear regression trendline is a straight line that best fits the data points on a scatter plot, providing a visual representation of the relationship between two variables.
  • Adding a linear regression trendline to your Excel charts can help you identify patterns, make predictions, and understand the correlation between variables.
  • Excel offers several options for customizing and formatting trendlines, including displaying the equation and R-squared value.

Adding a trendline to your Excel charts can be a powerful way to visualize and analyze data. Among the various trendline options available in Excel, the linear regression trendline is one of the most commonly used and versatile tools. In this article, we’ll explore what a linear regression trendline is, why it’s useful, and how to add it to your Excel graphs and charts.

What is a Linear Regression Trendline?

A linear regression trendline is a straight line that best fits the data points on a scatter plot. It represents the linear relationship between two variables, typically an independent variable (x) and a dependent variable (y). The trendline is calculated using the least-squares method, which minimizes the sum of the squared distances between the data points and the line.

The equation of a linear regression trendline takes the form:

y = mx + b


  • y is the dependent variable (the value you want to predict)
  • x is the independent variable (the value you know)
  • m is the slope of the line (the rate of change)
  • b is the y-intercept (the value of y when x is zero)

Why Use a Linear Regression Trendline?

Adding a linear regression trendline to your Excel charts can provide several benefits:

  1. Identify Patterns: A trendline can help you visualize the overall trend or pattern in your data, making it easier to identify relationships between variables.
  2. Make Predictions: By extending the trendline beyond the existing data points, you can use the equation to predict future values or estimate values outside the range of your data.
  3. Understand Correlation: The trendline’s slope (m) and the R-squared value (a measure of how well the line fits the data) can give you insights into the strength and direction of the correlation between the variables.
  4. Communicate Findings: A well-designed chart with a trendline can effectively communicate your findings to others, making it easier to convey complex data relationships.

How to Add a Linear Regression Trendline in Excel

Follow these steps to add a linear regression trendline to your Excel chart:

  1. Select the Chart: Click on the chart to which you want to add the trendline.
  2. Access the Trendline Options: Depending on your Excel version, you can access the trendline options in different ways:
  • In Excel 2019 and later versions, click the “+” icon on the right side of the chart, then select “Trendline” from the menu.
  • In older versions of Excel, go to the “Layout” or “Design” tab, click “Add Chart Element,” and then select “Trendline.”
  1. Choose the Trendline Type: From the trendline options, select “Linear” or “Linear Regression” as the trendline type.
  2. Customize the Trendline: You can further customize the trendline by:
  • Displaying the equation on the chart by checking the “Display Equation on chart” option.
  • Showing the R-squared value by checking the “Display R-squared value on chart” option.
  • Formatting the trendline’s appearance (line style, color, etc.) by selecting the trendline and using the formatting options.
  1. Extend the Trendline (Optional): If you want to use the trendline for forecasting or prediction, you can extend it beyond the existing data points. Double-click the trendline, go to the “Trendline Options” tab, and enter the desired values in the “Forward” or “Backward” boxes under “Forecast.”

Interpreting the Linear Regression Trendline

Once you’ve added the linear regression trendline to your chart, you can interpret the results:

  • Slope (m): The slope of the trendline indicates the rate of change between the variables. A positive slope means that as the independent variable (x) increases, the dependent variable (y) also increases. A negative slope means that as x increases, y decreases.
  • R-squared Value: The R-squared value (displayed when you choose to show it on the chart) represents the goodness of fit of the trendline to the data. It ranges from 0 to 1, with values closer to 1 indicating a better fit. Generally, an R-squared value above 0.7 is considered a strong correlation.
  • Equation: The equation displayed on the chart (if you chose to show it) can be used to calculate predicted values for the dependent variable (y) based on known values of the independent variable (x).


Q1: Can I add multiple trendlines to the same chart?

Yes, you can add multiple trendlines to the same chart in Excel. Simply repeat the steps for adding a trendline for each data series you want to analyze. This can be useful for comparing different trendline types or analyzing multiple variables on the same chart.

Q2: What if my data doesn’t seem to follow a linear pattern?

If your data doesn’t appear to have a linear relationship, you can try using other trendline types available in Excel, such as exponential, logarithmic, or polynomial. These trendlines may better fit your data and provide more accurate predictions.

Q3: How do I remove a trendline from an Excel chart?

To remove a trendline from an Excel chart, simply right-click on the trendline and select “Delete” from the context menu.

Q4: Can I use trendlines with other chart types besides scatter plots?

Yes, you can add trendlines to various chart types in Excel, including line charts, bar charts, and area charts. However, trendlines are most commonly used with scatter plots to visualize the relationship between two variables.

Q5: How do I format the trendline’s appearance?

To format the appearance of a trendline, select the trendline on the chart, and then use the formatting options available in the “Format Trendline” pane or the ribbon. You can change the line style, color, weight, and other visual properties to make the trendline more prominent or blend it with the chart’s overall design.