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How to Create a Scatter Plot in Excel

Joshua earned an MBA from USF and writes mostly about software and technology.

A scatter plot can tell you whether the data of two variables are directly related, indirectly related, or not related at all.

A scatter plot can tell you whether the data of two variables are directly related, indirectly related, or not related at all.

How to Create a Scatter Plot in Excel

A scatter plot may very well be the most useful creation in the history of statistical graphics. The creation of the scatter plot by Galton led to the use of correlation and regression in the field of statistics.

Scatter plots can tell you a lot about a data set. The data set for a scatter is created from events that relate to two variables. Each piece of data in the data set represents a point on the scatter plot. Creating a scatter plot is a great way to find out whether two variables have a relationship and can also measure how close that relationship is. In this tutorial, we use Excel to automatically generate each point on a scatter plot graph.

Below is a practice data set to conduct an analysis. Even without discussing background information about the data, it is still possible to figure out how closely related the two variables are within a scatter plot just by looking at the resulting graph.

Let’s run through an example in Excel to highlight the steps used to create a scatter plot.

To find a relationship between two variables let each variable represent either an x or y value. When their points are plotted the relationship is visible by how the points are dispersed throughout the graph.

To find a relationship between two variables let each variable represent either an x or y value. When their points are plotted the relationship is visible by how the points are dispersed throughout the graph.

Inserting a Scatter Plot

There are several steps to inserting a scatter plot into an Excel worksheet listed below:

  1. First, select the data that you wish to plot.
  2. Next, choose the Insert tab and click on the insert scatter or bubble chart option noted by 3 in the illustration below.
  3. Finally, select the scatter chart option.

Each of these steps can be seen in the illustration below.

Inserting the scatter plot takes three easy steps: Selecting the data, selecting the insert tab, then selecting the scatter plot option.

Inserting the scatter plot takes three easy steps: Selecting the data, selecting the insert tab, then selecting the scatter plot option.

Displaying Chart Elements of a Scatter Plot

Notice the green cross to the right of the scatter chart that appears after the chart is selected. Click on this button to show the chart elements options. The list of elements allows you to change the appearance of your graph by adding them to the chart or removing them.

The scatter plot chart elements options are displayed in the illustration above.

The scatter plot chart elements options are displayed in the illustration above.

The elements that can be added or removed from a scatter plot are:

  • Axes
  • Axis Titles
  • Chart Title
  • Data Labels
  • Error Bars
  • Gridlines
  • Legend
  • Trendline

Any of the above chart element options can be displayed by clicking on the check box next to each option. Each chart element is further explained in the text below.

By default, axes, chart titles, and gridlines are automatically placed on a chart when a chart is first created. It is up to the Excel user to add elements if needed.

By default, axes, chart titles, and gridlines are automatically placed on a chart when a chart is first created. It is up to the Excel user to add elements if needed.

Show Axes

The axes are shown on the graph by default. You have the option to remove this option if you wish. When the axes are removed, essentially, you are removing the measurements for the X and Y axes.

It's best for any graph with multiple variables to have the axes displayed so the axes can help tell a story about the given information.

It's best for any graph with multiple variables to have the axes displayed so the axes can help tell a story about the given information.

Show Axis Titles

When axis titles are displayed, the labels can be edited for each axis by double-clicking on these text boxes.

Axes Titles Displayed

Axes Titles Displayed

Chart Title

The chart title is set to display by default. This can be removed by unchecking the check box beside “Chart title” or by right-clicking on the chart title and then clicking delete. To edit the title, double-click the text box it resides in.

Chart Title Displayed

Chart Title Displayed

Showing Data Labels

A data labels option is available to show data for each data point. By default, the y-axis position data points are displayed when this option is selected.

Data Labels Displayed

Data Labels Displayed

Displaying Error Bars

Error bars can also be displayed by checking the box next to that option to indicate the uncertainty of data points on the chart.

Error Bars Displayed

Error Bars Displayed

Gridlines

This option allows you to either add or remove the line in the background of the chart.

Displaying the Legend

Adding the legend allows you to identify the plot point and trendline designs in the chart.

Legend Displayed

Legend Displayed

Show Trendline

The trendline option will display a trendline based on a regression of all the data in the scatter plot. Sometimes when viewing a scatter plot, the relation between the variables is not apparent. A trendline can tell you three things:

  • Whether the data is inversely related when the trendline slants down from left to right.
  • whether the data has a direct relationship when the trendline slants up from right to left.
  • Whether the data has no relationship when the trendline is a flat line.
Trendline Displayed

Trendline Displayed

Formatting the Trendline

The trendline offers additional options. A few options that benefit analysis of your data set are the options to display the regression equation for the data and the R-squared value on the chart. To complete this task, click on the chart, then click on the arrow to the right of the trendline option.

Trendline Options

Trendline Options

Adding the Slope Equation & R-Squared

To add the regression equation and R-square value click on the check boxes shown in the illustration below.

Equation & R-Square Displayed

Equation & R-Square Displayed

Scatter Plot Example

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Joshua Crowder