How to change the display of axes in Excel

Written by stephen byron cooper Google
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How to change the display of axes in Excel
Excel generates line graphs from data in a table. (Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

When you create a chart in Microsoft Excel you do not have to stick with the titles and labels that the program generates. Changing the appearance of the axes is relatively simple. You can even decide to switch the data series around so that the x and y axis data change over. Excel takes its source data from columns of numbers you enter in the spreadsheet. If you alter that data Excel will automatically change the axes to fit the new values.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Create sample date in an Excel spreadsheet. For an example, create a table of a puppy’s weight as it grows. Put title “Age (months)” and “Weight (lbs)” in cells A1 and B1. Enter the numbers "0" to "12" in cells A2 to A14. Enter the numbers "1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 8.5, 9, 9.5, 10, 11, 12, 14" in cells B2 to B14.

  2. 2

    Click in B2 and drag down to B14 to highlight the column of numbers. On the menu bar, click “Insert” and then select “Line” from the Charts section of the menu. Select the first line graph type in the drown-down list. This gives you a basic chart from which you can experiment with the display of the axes.

  3. 3

    Put labels on the axes by changing the layout template. Find the “Chart Layouts” section in the Design Menu in the Chart Tools group, which activates immediately after you create the chart. You can get this menu back at any time by clicking on the chart. Click the down-arrow next to the chart layout examples and select a layout that shows a blue line to the left and below the chart in the layout example. This adds axes titles to the menu. Click the left title to edit it and type in “Lbs." Do the same for the bottom title to change it to “Months."

  4. 4

    Click the bottom axis numbers to place them in a highlight box. Right-click and select “Format Axis” from the context menu to open a dialog window with menu options for altering the appearance of the axis.

  5. 5

    Use the format options to change the axis. Select the “Size and Properties” icon, click the arrow at the end of the box next to “Vertical alignment” and then select “Middle” from the list to shift the numbers below the ticks. Click the “Close” button to return to the chart.

  6. 6

    Return to the Format Axis window and explore other formatting options. Right-click the left axis numbers and select the “Format Axis” option to adjust the y axis appearance.

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