How To Graph Functions in Excel (With Tips and FAQ)

Learning how to graph functions in Excel can be daunting, but it is a good skill to learn. Luckily, Excel has many wonderful features that make the process easy to learn and use. This article outlines the process with step-by-step instructions to help you graph functions in Excel in no time.

Consider the following steps in order to graph functions in Excel:
  1. Open Excel. To graph functions in Excel, first, open the program on your computer or device. …
  2. Create your headers. …
  3. Enter your input variables. …
  4. Type your formula. …
  5. Populate the output column. …
  6. Insert your graph.

How to Graph a Function in Excel 2016

Tips for graphing functions in Excel

Use this advice to help you graph functions in Excel:

How to graph functions in Excel

Consider the following steps in order to graph functions in Excel:

1. Open Excel

To graph functions in Excel, first, open the program on your computer or device. Find the green icon with the “x” over the spreadsheet either in your control panel or by searching your applications for “Excel.” You can then open an existing spreadsheet file or create a new one by pressing the “New” option.

2. Create your headers

At the top of your Excel spreadsheet, enter your headers to distinguish which column is the input and which is the output. In cell A1, you can enter “x” to represent the input column. Then enter “y” in cell B1 for the output variables. You also can use more specific headers, such as “Number of sales” and “Revenue” to label the columns.

3. Enter your input variables

Next, type your input variables in the column underneath the header “x.” These are the values of x you want to use on the horizontal axis of your graph, and can be negative, positive, fractional or any combination of these types of numbers. If your graph charted numbers by 10 through 100, youd include “10” in cell A2, “20” in cell A3, “30” in cell A4 and so on through “100” in A11.

Once you enter your desired amount of variables, select all the x variables in column A by highlighting A2 and dragging your cursor down to the last cell you want to plot. You need to define the meaning of the values of column A, so that Excel knows that each value in A equals a value of x. To do this, click the “Formulas” tab at the top of your page. In the “Defined Names” group, click “Define Name” and enter “x” in the “Name” box. Press “OK” to apply your changes.

4. Type your formula

In cell B2, type the “=” symbol with your formula directly after it without a space. For instance, if an organization wanted to determine the number of sales required for a particular product to cover its cost, they might type “=(A2*25)-2500.” Here, the “25” represents the price for their item, “2,500” represents their total costs to produce the item and the “*” symbol represents a multiplication sign.

5. Populate the output column

Copy your formula from B2 by selecting cell B2 and clicking the “Copy” button in the “Clipboard” group on your “Home” tab. Then, click and drag over the cells from B2 to the last variable you want to include in your plot. Then, click the arrow underneath the “Paste” icon in the “Clipboard” group and choose “Formulas.” When you do this, Excel automatically enters the solutions to each function in your column. In our previous example, if A2 had the variable “150,” then Excel would calculate what (150*25)-2500 to enter 1,250 for the B2 cell.

6. Insert your graph

After populating your output column, select all your cells with data in them, including your headers. Then click the “Insert” tab at the top of your spreadsheet and click “Scatter” in the “Charts” section. From there, choose a type of graph for your function and Excel can publish it directly onto your spreadsheet.

Graphing functions in Excel FAQ

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about graphing functions in Excel:

What is a function in Excel?

A function in Excel is a preset formula that an individual uses to apply a set of calculations to an input. This allows them to perform a mathematical operation. Referred to as “x,” the input are numbers someone enters in a function to determine the variable theyre trying to discover.

For instance, if a coffee subscription costs $10 a month, an employee may use “x” to figure out how many subscriptions they need in two months to make $500, using the formula ($10x)*2=$500. The output, or “y,” is the result of your equation. Companies often use this to plot their profits minus their costs at different levels of sales. It can also help organizations find the total costs by plotting fixed costs at various increments of variable costs.

What are the parts of a function?

A function consists of an equal sign, function name and one or more arguments. An example of a function is “=SUMA1:A14.” A function is what action an individual wants to take. For instance, “SUM” represents adding all the cells in an argument. Arguments are what an individual wants to calculate, such as A1:A14, which would add all values in the cells ranging from A1 to A14.

How do you add multiple functions to the same graph in Excel?

When using Excel, its easy to combine functions on the same graph. After the first set is graphed, and youd like to add another data function set, under the “Chart Tools,” click the “Design” tab and then choose the “Select Data Source” button. Then, to add the variables to your chart, click the “Add” button under “Series.” This opens a new dialog box that allows you to enter the new series name, x values and y values. After clicking OK on the dialog box and the “Select Data Source” screen, the second data set is added to the graph.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.


Can you plot functions in Excel?

You can use a similar technique to plot any function or equation in Excel. Simply choose a range of x-values to use in one column, then use an equation in a separate column to define the y-values based on the x-values.

How do I graph multiple functions in Excel?

1 Answer
  1. Right-click the chart > Source Data… > Series > Add > Indicate the ranges where your X and Y values are.
  2. Repeat as needed.

How do you graph a function?

Add Equation Formula to Graph
  1. Click Graph.
  2. Select Chart Design.
  3. Click Add Chart Element.
  4. Click Trendline.
  5. Select More Trendline Options.

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