How to Add a Trendline in Excel

Written by co-founder Kasper Langmann, Microsoft Office Specialist.

Excel trendline is a great way to visualize the general trend in your data. 

In total, there are 6 different types of trendlines in Excel you can use depending on the type of data you have.

Furthermore, you can add more than 1 type of trendline!

Fortunately, it’s quite easy to do!

In this article, we’ll show you how you can add a trendline in Excel. Let’s get it started!

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

Trendlines in Excel

A trendline, also called “a line of best fit”, is an analytical tool that is used to visualize and represent the behavior of a data set to see if there’s a pattern.

In Excel, most charts allow trendlines except for pie, radar, 3-D, stacked charts and other similar ones.

As stated earlier, there are 6 different types of trendlines:

  1. Linear: From the name itself, this is a best-fit straight line usually used with simple linear data sets. Results are easy to interpret as they’re either increasing or decreasing at a steady rate.
  2. Logarithmic: This one is commonly used when there are quick changes in the data which levels out. It’s a best-fit curved line and uses a negative and/or positive values.
  3. Polynomial: A polynomial trendline is also a curved line used to visualize data fluctuations. The fluctuations are seen as a hill or valley in the trendline.
  4. Power: A power trendline is another curve line used with data sets comparing values that increase at a specific rate. This trendline is only possible for positive values.
  5. Exponential: An exponential trendline is also a curve line that’s useful for data sets with values that rise or fall at increasingly higher rates. Like a power trendline, you can’t use an exponential trendline with negative or zero values.
  6. Moving Average: This trendline is useful in forecasting through moving average. This shows a clear pattern or trend.

Get your FREE exercise file

Before you start:

Throughout this guide, you need a data set to practice.

I’ve included one for you (for free).

Download it right below!

Download the FREE Exercise File

Download exercise file

How to add a trendline in Excel

It only takes 2 clicks to add a trendline in your chart.

By default, Excel adds the linear trendline into your chart. We’ll show you later on how to add a specific trendline.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

For this tutorial, we’ll be using this “2019 Monthly Sales” data set with a line chart:

2019 monthly sales dataset with line chart

Here are the quick steps to add a trendline:

  • Click 1: Click the plus (+) icon found on the upper-right side of the chart. (If you don’t see the icon, click the chart first.)
  • Click 2: Click the ‘Trendline’ tickbox.
trendline menu option under chart elements

You’ll immediately see the trendline on the chart:

How to add other types of trendline

If you would like to add a specific type of trendline, you’ll have to take it a step further.

After clicking the plus (+) icon found on the upper-right side of the chart, click the right arrow beside ‘Trendline’ and choose ‘More Options…’ from the dropdown list.

more options under trendline on chart elements

A sidebar will slide from the right where you can select the trendline of your choice.

To add your preferred trendline, simply click on it and adjust any settings as you see fit.

It’s possible to add an Excel trendline equation and R-squared value on the chart.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

As an example, let’s go with ‘Exponential’:

How to format trendline

Here are the changes you can make by formatting a trendline:

  • Change the trendline type
  • Add a trendline name
  • Setup trendline forecast
  • Show equations
  • Adjust the trendline’s shadow, glow, and soft edges
  • Change the trendline’s looks (line type, color, width, etc.)

If you would like to make changes on your trendline, simply right-click on it and select ‘Format Trendline’ from the dropdown list:

format trendline menu option after right-clicking on the trendline

This will open a sidebar from the right (the same one shown in the previous chapter).

There are 3 tabs in this sidebar from which you can choose from:

  • Fill & Line
  • Effects
  • Trendline Options
fill and line, effects, and trendline options tab on format trendline

Let’s say you would like to change the line’s color and width:

Any changes you make are reflected immediately.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

How to delete a trendline in Excel

To delete a trendline in Excel, you have to click on it first.

Then, you either:

  • Right-click on it and select ‘Delete’
  • Press ‘Delete’ or ‘Backspace’ from your keyboard

Either one works! 👍

deleting a trendline via menu option after right-clicking the trendline

Wrapping things up…

Visualizing the general trend in your data greatly helps in having a better understanding of your data. In addition, there are lots of information you can get through Excel trendline like equations and R-squared value.

If this was a bit hard for you, feel free to download the exercise file of this tutorial. You can then follow this guide step-by-step and apply it yourself.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto