Section4.9Summary of Graphing Lines
¶The previous several sections have demonstrated several methods for plotting a graph of a linear equation. In this section, we review these methods.
We have learned three forms to write a linear equation:

slopeintercept form
\(y=mx+b\)

standard form
\(Ax+By=C\)

pointslope form
\(y=m\left(xx_0\right)+y_0\)
We have studied two special types of line:
horizontal line: \(y=k\)
vertical line: \(x=h\)
We have practiced three ways to graph a line:
building a table of \(x\) and \(y\)values
plotting one point (often the \(y\)intercept) and drawing slope triangles
plotting its \(x\)intercept and \(y\)intercept
Subsection4.9.1Graphing Lines in SlopeIntercept Form
In the following examples we will graph \(y=2x+1\text{,}\) which is in slopeintercept form (4.5.1), with different methods and compare them.
Example4.9.2Building a Table of \(x\) and \(y\)values
First, we will graph \(y=2x+1\) by building a table of values. In theory this method can be used for any type of equation, linear or not. Every student must feel comfortable with building a table of values based on an equation.
\(x\)value  \(y\)value  Point 
\(\highlight{2}\)  \(y=2(\substitute{2})+1=5\)  \((2,5)\) 
\(\highlight{1}\)  \(y=2(\substitute{1})+1=3\)  \((1,3)\) 
\(\highlight{0}\)  \(y=2(\substitute{0})+1=1\)  \((0,1)\) 
\(\highlight{1}\)  \(y=2(\substitute{1})+1=1\)  \((1,1)\) 
\(\highlight{2}\)  \(y=2(\substitute{2})+1=3\)  \((2,3)\) 
Example4.9.5Using Slope Triangles
Although making a table is straightforward, the slope triangle method is both faster and reinforces the true meaning of slope. In the slope triangle method, we first identify some point on the line. With a line in slopeintercept form (4.5.1), we know the \(y\)intercept, which is \((0,1)\text{.}\) Then, we can draw slope triangles in both directions to find more points.
Compared to the table method, the slope triangle method:
 is less straightforward
 doesn't take the time and space to make a table
 doesn't involve lots of calculations where you might make a human error
 shows slope triangles, which reinforces the meaning of slope
Example4.9.8Using intercepts
If we use the \(x\) and \(y\)intercepts to plot \(y=2x+1\text{,}\) we have some calculation to do. While it is apparent that the \(y\)intercept is at \((0,1)\text{,}\) where is the \(x\)intercept? Here are two methods to find it.
Set \(y=0\text{.}\)
Factor out the coefficient of \(x\text{.}\)
And now it is easy to see that substituting \(x=\frac{1}{2}\) would make \(y=0\text{.}\)
So the \(x\)intercept is at \(\left(\frac{1}{2},0\right)\text{.}\) Plotting both intercepts:
This worked, but here are some observations about why this method is not the greatest.
 We had to plot a point with fractional coordinates.
 We only plotted two points and they turned out very close to each other, so even the slightest inaccuracy in our drawing skills could result in a line that is way off.
When a line is presented in slopeintercept form (4.5.1), our opinion is that the slope triangle method is the best choice for making its graph.
Subsection4.9.2Graphing Lines in Standard Form
In the following examples we will graph \(3x+4y=12\text{,}\) which is in standard form (4.7.1), with different methods and compare them.
Example4.9.11Building a Table of \(x\) and \(y\)values
To make a table, we could substitute \(x\) for various numbers and use algebra to find the corresponding \(y\)values. Let's start with \(x=2\text{,}\) planning to move on to \(x=1,0,1,2\text{.}\)
The first point we found is \(\left(2,\frac{9}{2}\right)\text{.}\) This has been a lot of calculation, and we ended up with a fraction we will have to plot. And we have to repeat this process a few more times to get more points for the table. The table method is generally not a preferred way to graph a line in standard form (4.7.1). Let's look at other options.
Example4.9.12Using intercepts
Next, we will try graphing \(3x+4y=12\) using intercepts. We set up a small table to record the two intercepts:
\(x\)value  \(y\)value  Intercept  
\(x\)intercept  \(0\)  
\(y\)intercept  \(0\) 
We have to calculate the line's \(x\)intercept by substituting \(y=0\) into the equation:
\begin{align*} 3x+4y\amp=12\\ 3x+4(\substitute{0})\amp=12\\ 3x\amp=12\\ x\amp=\divideunder{12}{3}\\ x\amp=4 \end{align*}And similarly for the \(y\)intercept:
\begin{align*} 3x+4y\amp=12\\ 3(\substitute{0})+4y\amp=12\\ 4y\amp=12\\ y\amp=\divideunder{12}{4}\\ y\amp=3 \end{align*}So the line's \(x\)intercept is at \((4,0)\) and its \(y\)intercept is at \((0,3)\text{.}\) Now we can complete the table and then graph the line:
\(x\)value  \(y\)value  Intercepts  
\(x\)intercept  \(4\)  \(0\)  \((4,0)\) 
\(y\)intercept  \(0\)  \(3\)  \((0,3)\) 
Example4.9.15
We can always rearrange \(3x+4y=12\) into slopeintercept form (4.5.1), and then graph it with the slope triangle method:
With the \(y\)intercept at \((0,3)\) and slope \(\frac{3}{4}\text{,}\) we can graph the line using slope triangles:
Compared with the intercepts method, the slope triangle method takes more time, but shows more points with slope triangles, and thus a more accurate graph. Also sometimes (as with Example 4.7.16) when we graph a standard form equation like \(2x3y=0\text{,}\) the intercepts method doesn't work because both intercepts are actually at the same point, and we have to resort to something else like slope triangles anyway.
Here are some observations about graphing a line equation that is in standard form (4.7.1):
 The intercepts method might be the quickest approach.
 The intercepts method only tells us two intercepts of the line. When we need to know more information, like the line's slope, and get a more accurate graph, we should spend more time and use the slope triangle method.
 When \(C=0\) in a standard form equation (4.7.1) we have to use something else like slope triangles anyway.
Subsection4.9.3Graphing Lines in PointSlope Form
When we graph a line in pointslope form (4.6.1) like \(y=\frac{2}{3}(x+1)+3\text{,}\) the slope triangle method is the obvious choice. We can see a point on the line, \((1,3)\text{,}\) and the slope is apparent: \(\frac{2}{3}\text{.}\) Here is the graph:
Other graphing methods would take more work and miss the purpose of pointslope form (4.6.1). To graph a line in pointslope form (4.6.1), we recommend always using slope triangles.
Subsection4.9.4Graphing Horizontal and Vertical Lines
We learned in Section 4.8 that equations in the form \(x=h\) and \(y=k\) make vertical and horizontal lines. But perhaps you will one day find yourself not remembering which is which. Making a table and plotting points can quickly remind you which type of equation makes which type of line. Let's build a table for \(y=2\) and another one for \(x=3\text{:}\)
\(x\)value  \(y\)value  Point 
\(0\)  \(2\)  \((0,2)\) 
\(1\)  \(2\)  \((1,2)\) 
\(x\)value  \(y\)value  Point 
\(3\)  \(0\)  \((3,0)\) 
\(3\)  \(1\)  \((3,1)\) 
With two points on each line, we can graph them:
Subsection4.9.5Exercises
Graphing by Table
1
Use a table to make a plot of \(y=4x+3\text{.}\)
2
Use a table to make a plot of \(y=5x1\text{.}\)
3
Use a table to make a plot of \(y=\frac{3}{4}x1\text{.}\)
4
Use a table to make a plot of \(y=\frac{5}{3}x+3\text{.}\)
Graphing Standard Form Equations
5
First find the \(x\) and \(y\)intercepts of the line with equation \(6x+5y=90\text{.}\) Then use your results to graph the line.
6
First find the \(x\) and \(y\)intercepts of the line with equation \(2x3y=6\text{.}\) Then use your results to graph the line.
7
First find the \(x\) and \(y\)intercepts of the line with equation \(3x+y=9\text{.}\) Then use your results to graph the line.
8
First find the \(x\) and \(y\)intercepts of the line with equation \(15x+3y=3\text{.}\) Then use your results to graph the line.
9
First find the \(x\) and \(y\)intercepts of the line with equation \(4x+3y=3\text{.}\) Then use your results to graph the line.
10
First find the \(x\) and \(y\)intercepts of the line with equation \(4x5y=5\text{.}\) Then use your results to graph the line.
11
First find the \(x\) and \(y\)intercepts of the line with equation \(5x3y=0\text{.}\) Then use your results to graph the line.
12
First find the \(x\) and \(y\)intercepts of the line with equation \(2x+9y=0\text{.}\) Then use your results to graph the line.
Graphing SlopeIntercept Equations
13
Use the slope and \(y\)intercept from the line \(y=5x\) to plot the line. Use slope triangles.
14
Use the slope and \(y\)intercept from the line \(y=3x6\) to plot the line. Use slope triangles.
15
Use the slope and \(y\)intercept from the line \(y=\frac{2}{5}x+2\) to plot the line. Use slope triangles.
16
Use the slope and \(y\)intercept from the line \(y=\frac{10}{3}x3\) to plot the line. Use slope triangles.
Graphing Horizontal and Vertical Lines
17
Plot the line \(y=1\text{.}\)
18
Plot the line \(x=8\text{.}\)
Choosing the Best Method to Graph Lines
19
Use whatever method you think best to plot \(y=2x+2\text{.}\)
20
Use whatever method you think best to plot \(y=\frac{3}{4}x1\text{.}\)
21
Use whatever method you think best to plot \(y=\frac{3}{4}(x5)+2\text{.}\)
22
Use whatever method you think best to plot \(3x+2y=6\text{.}\)
23
Use whatever method you think best to plot \(3x4y=0\text{.}\)
24
Use whatever method you think best to plot \(x=3\text{.}\)