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Graphing Resources

Line Graphs and Scatter Plots

Table of Contents

One Independent and One Dependent Variable 1. Scatter Plot 2. Line Graph Two (or More) Independent Variables and One Dependent Variable 1. Multiple Line Graph Excel Tips

Introduction

Line graphs provide an excellent way to map independent and dependent variables that are both quantitative. When both variables are quantitative, the line segment that connects two points on the graph expresses a slope, which can be interpreted visually relative to the slope of other lines or expressed as a precise mathematical formula. Scatter plots are similar to line graphs in that they start with mapping quantitative data points. The difference is that with a scatter plot, the decision is made that the individual points should not be connected directly together with a line but, instead express a trend. This trend can be seen directly through the distribution of points or with the addition of a regression line. A statistical tool used to mathematically express a trend in the data.

**One Independent and One Dependent Variable
**

1.

Scatter Plot

With a scatter plot a mark, usually a dot or small circle, represents a single data point. With one

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A regression line can be used to statistically describe the trend of the points in the scatter plot to help tie the data back to a theoretical ideal.. When a curved line is used.. Whether this regression line should be linear or curved depends on what your hypothesis predicts the relationship is.Graphing . Because the data points represent real data collected in a laboratory setting rather than theoretically calculated values. but rarely provide a better mathematical description of the relationship. you may also be given a constant that expresses the 'goodness of fit' of the curve. to what degree of certainty can we say this line truly describes the trend in the data. That is to say. Depending on how tightly the points cluster together. it is typically expressed as either a second order (cubic) or third order (quadratic) curve. The correlational constant is usually expressed as R (R-squared). they will represent all of the error inherent in such a collection process.Line Graphs and Scatter Plots. you may be able to discern a clear trend in the data. Higher order curves may follow the actual data points more closely. This regression line expresses a mathematical relationship between the independent and dependent variable. 2 2 of 5 30-01-2013 22:32 . mark (point) for every data point a visual distribution of the data can be seen.Line Graphs and Scatter Plots file:///C:/Users/mtn/Desktop/Graphing . Depending on the software used to generate the regression line.

the independent variable can be either scalar or ordinal. An overall trend can still be seen.Graphing ..Line Graphs and Scatter Plots. You would use a line graph when you want to be able to more clearly see the rate of change (slope) between individual data points. Line Graph Line graphs are like scatter plots in that they record individual data values as marks on the graph. If the independent variable was nominal. Multiple Line Graph 3 of 5 30-01-2013 22:32 .. but this trend is joined by the local trend between individual or small groups of points.Line Graphs and Scatter Plots file:///C:/Users/mtn/Desktop/Graphing . the local change from point to point can be seen. but we would probably not be generating mathematical formulas for individual segments. Return to Top Two (or more) Independent and One Dependent Variable 1. Month could be thought of as either scalar or ordinal. Unlike scatter plots. Return to Top 2. In this way. In the example above. This is done when it is important to be able to see the local change between any to pairs of points. The above example could have also been produced as a bar graph. The slope of the line segments are of interest. The difference is that a line is created connecting each data point together. you would almost certainly use a bar graph instead of a line graph.

Marks for data points are called Markers The color and size of the line and markers can be set by double-clicking on the line in the graph.Graphing . can be treated as being either as ordinal or scalar. Markers can be turned off by double-clicking the line and choosing None under Markers. they can both be color coded (for computer and color print display) or shape coded with symbols (for black & white reproduction). or go to the Excel Tutorial Main Menu for a complete list of modules.Line Graphs and Scatter Plots file:///C:/Users/mtn/Desktop/Graphing . This is particularly important if you display the line without symbols at individual data points. With bars.. With the lines. it is more efficient to use color and/or a different symbol on the data points. months. go to the Scatter Plots and Line Graphs Module. Another advantage is that the lines can easily dual coded. Notice that there is a break in the 1996 data line (green/triangle) between August and October. Specific tips for line graphs The graphing tutorial gives specific instructions on creating scatter plots and regression lines Line graphs can be created with either the Line Graph type or with (XY) Scatter. shape coding cannot be used. choose the Connected with Line sub-type. Here. Because the data values are marked by small marks (points) and not bars. Since we have a second independent variable. Because the data point for September is missing.. This is often the case with larger units of time. Return to Top Excel Tips For information on creating bar graphs with Excel. We will need a legend to explain the coding scheme. Pattern coding tends to be much more limiting. they do not have to be offset from each other (only when data values are very dense does this become a problem). and pattern coding has to be substituted. such as weeks. and years. When using (XY) Scatter. month and year. the line should not be connected between August and October since this would give an erroneous local slope. 4 of 5 30-01-2013 22:32 . we have taken the same graph seen above and added a second independent variable. It is simpler to create a line graph with (XY) Scatter when your independent and dependent variables are in columns.Line Graphs and Scatter Plots. some sort of coding is needed to indicate which level (year) each line is. Both the independent variables. year. Though we could label each bar with text indicating the year. Multiple line graphs have space-saving characteristics over a comparable grouped bar graph.

Graphing .Line Graphs and Scatter Plots file:///C:/Users/mtn/Desktop/Graphing .. © Copyright NC State University 2004 Sponsored and funded by National Science Foundation (DUE-9950405 and DUE-0231086) Site design by Rosa Wallace Rev.. RW 5/16/05 5 of 5 30-01-2013 22:32 .Line Graphs and Scatter Plots.

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