The difference between a line chart and a scatter chart

People often ask: Should I use the line or the scatter? In this article, I try to explain the difference and when to use each chart type.

The basic difference is that the line chart shows only the one value and the scatter chart shows the relationship between two values. Let’s look at this issue more closely.

Line chart

The values ​​are plotted only on the vertical axis (Y-axis). On the horizontal axis (X-axis) is the sequence number of the value. Exceptions are graphs with the date on the X-axis.

two values table

The line chart for this table contains two lines because there are two data series (Value1 and Value2). The line of Value 1 (blue) is down because Value1 and Value2 ​​are in very different scale. On the X-axis you can see numbers 1 to 9, that’s because we have 9 rows in the source table.

line chart for two values

The line chart of the Value 1 is on the following picture. You can see that the values are on the vertical axis (Y-axis) and on the horizontal axis (X-axis) are still only the sequence numbers.

line chart value1

The line chart for Value 2:

line chart value2

As you can see in the previous examples, the line chart shows each data series (values in columns) separately into the color lines.

Scatter chart

When you want to show the relationship between two values, use the scatter chart. Scatter is often called XY chart.

two values table

On the following picture is the scatter chart for Value 1 and Value 2. On the vertical axis (Y-axis) are Values 1 and on the horizontal axis (X-axis) are Values 2. In this chart are only 6 points, it’s because 4 of the rows have the same XY coordinate (Value1=22, Value2=250000).

scatter chart

Line and scatter chart with the date

table with the date

The line and the scatter chart of this table are nearly the same.

line chart with date

scatter chart with date

Add a comment »4 comments to this article

  1. Hello,

    Very good explanation Line vs Scatter graph problem. Thank you


  2. Thanks a lot. Very helpful.


  3. Thanks for the best information!:)


    • Thanks for your thshguto. It’s helped me a lot.


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