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Thoughts on Trendlines

Alex Velez shares some thoughts on trendlines:

A trendline is a line drawn on a chart highlighting an underlying pattern of individual values. The line itself can take on many forms depending on the shape of the data: straight, curved, etc. This is common practice when using statistical techniques to understand and forecast data (e.g. regression analysis). Determining the best fit and forecasting is beyond this article’s scope, so if you’re interested in learning more, I recommend Anna Foard’s Stats Ninja website. Instead, I’ll focus on various considerations related to visualizing trendlines when communicating data.

My main thought on trendlines is that they are less important than the data points. We make up the trendlines out of thin air; the data points actually exist and actually matter. Trendlines can be useful, but they don’t replace the data.