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If you need to present research reports, financial information, or solve mathematical problems, the concept of a slope and trendline may be familiar to you. Spreadsheet tools such as Excel or Google Sheets offer different ways to find, assess, and compare slopes in your table data.

Although Google Sheets is more commonly used to store and structure information, it also allows for powerful tools and formulas to calculate and analyze financial data. If you’re interested in exploring this side of Google Sheets, you’ll soon be able to unlock the full potential of Google Sheets’ advanced analytics and reporting features.

In this article, you’ll learn all about slopes, from the meaning behind this concept, to how to find the slope of a graph and trendline in Google Sheets. You’ll learn how to find it using two methods: by creating a scatter chart and then obtaining the trendline equation and without a chart, by using the SLOPE function.

What is a Slope?

The Slope is a geometric concept that refers to the direction and steepness of a line. This line usually appears on a standard x-y grid, i.e., a chart that has a vertical and horizontal axis. If the slope of the line rises from the left, it is said to be a positive slope; when it goes down, it’s a negative slope. 

However, finding a slope in your data can be trickier than it seems. You’ll first need to draw a trendline, which is basically the line that you’ll need to find the slope. For example, what you see below is an example of a linear trendline, which shows an increase at a steady rate.

How to Find the Slope in Google Sheets Example slope in Google Sheets
How to Find the Slope in Google Sheets - Example slope in Google Sheets

Now, let’s see how you can find a slope in your data in Google Sheets.

How to Find Slope in Google Sheets?

You’ll now learn how to find the slope in Google Sheets with and without a chart. First, let’s see how to find the slope of a graph.

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How to Find the Slope of a Graph in Google Sheets?

You can easily find the slope by creating a scatter chart from your table data and then adding a trendline.

How to Create a Scatter Chart in Google Sheets?

Google Sheets offers a set of tools to create different chart types based on your data. This is how you can create a scatter chart in Google Sheets.

  1. 1. Open your Google Sheets and select the table data you want to include in the chart.
How to Find the Slope in Google Sheets Select table data
How to Find the Slope in Google Sheets - Select table data
  1. 2. Click on the “Chart” icon, to the far right, as shown below.
How to Find the Slope in Google Sheets Click on chart icon
How to Find the Slope in Google Sheets - Click on chart icon
  1. 3. You should see the “Chart editor” pane to the far right. Under “Setup”, select “Scatter Chart” under the “Chart Type” drop-down menu.
How to Find the Slope in Google Sheets Select Scatter Chart
How to Find the Slope in Google Sheets - Select Scatter Chart
  1. 4. Now, click the tab “Customize”.
How to Find the Slope in Google Sheets Customize
How to Find the Slope in Google Sheets - Customize
  1. 5. Click on the “Series” group and then scroll down until you find the “Trendline” box.
How to Find the Slope in Google Sheets Check Trendline box
How to Find the Slope in Google Sheets - Check Trendline box
  1. 6. Check the “Trendline” box to add a trendline to your scatter chart.
How to Find the Slope in Google Sheets Trendline on scatter chart
How to Find the Slope in Google Sheets - Trendline on scatter chart
  1. 7. Scroll further down until you find the “Label” menu. Click on the “None” drop-down menu.
How to Find the Slope in Google Sheets Click on Label options
How to Find the Slope in Google Sheets - Click on Label options
  1. 8. Select “Use Equation” from the options to add the corresponding equation to the trendline, which appears above the chart as an equation.
How to Find the Slope in Google Sheets Use Equation
How to Find the Slope in Google Sheets - Use Equation

The format of the trendline equation in Google Sheets corresponds to the structure “y=mx+b”. The “m” and “b” are the numeric values, whereas “x” and “y” are variables. The slope of the trendline is the “m” number which appears to the left of the “x”.

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How to Find the Slope Without Using Charts in Google Sheets?

Now that you’ve seen how to find the slope in Google Sheets using a chart, let’s see how the SLOPE function can help you achieve the same thing without having to create a graph.

SLOPE Function Syntax

=SLOPE(data_y, data_x)
  • data_y refers to the cells that contain the dependent variable
  • data_x refers to the cells that contain the independent variable

How to Find the Slope Using the Slope Function?

The SLOPE function returns the same result as the one obtained using the chart, but with higher precision.

  1. 1. Go to your Google Sheets and type in “=SLOPE” to trigger the SLOPE function in Google Sheets. Select the data which corresponds to “data_y”, the dependent variable, and Google Sheets will automatically include the cell range.
How to Find the Slope in Google Sheets Type in SLOPE formula
How to Find the Slope in Google Sheets - Type in SLOPE formula
  1. 2. Type in a comma, and then select the data corresponding to data_x, the independent variable, the same way as before. Close the parenthesis, and press “Enter” to obtain the result.
How to Find the Slope in Google Sheets Use Equation 2
How to Find the Slope in Google Sheets - Use Equation
  1. 3. Your result should be the same as the one you obtained before when using the chart after selecting the “Use Equation” option under “Label” (See step 8 from the previous section).
How to Find the Slope in Google Sheets Use Equation result
How to Find the Slope in Google Sheets - Use Equation result

And that’s how you find the slope with and without charts in Google Sheets.

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Conclusion

Google Sheets offers a powerful range of analysis tools to chart and analyze financial data; the best thing is that Google Sheets is free and easy to use, so you’ll be able to quickly determine whether there is an increasing or decreasing trend over a specific period. What’s more, you have the option to interpret data through a visual representation, i.e., charts, or numbers, i.e., formulas.

You should now be more familiar with the concept of slope and what it can be used for. More importantly, you should be able to find the slope in Google Sheets by either creating a trendline in a scatter chart or by applying the SCOPE function.

Hady ElHady
Hady is Content Lead at Layer.

Hady has a passion for tech, marketing, and spreadsheets. Besides his Computer Science degree, he has vast experience in developing, launching, and scaling content marketing processes at SaaS startups.

Originally published Aug 25 2022, Updated Sep 23 2022