How-To

How to Change Axis Labels and Positions in Excel

how to change axis labels and positions in Excel

If you’re using charts in Excel, the default axis labels may not be ideal. Learn how to change axis labels and positions in Excel.

Excel makes it quick and easy to create charts from your spreadsheet data. There are many charts to choose from, covering everything from 3D pie charts to classic line charts. While your graphs may look just how you want them, your labels and axes may not always look as good. If you’re unhappy with the default axes and labels Excel has chosen for you, you can always change them manually.

Here’s how to change axis labels and positions in Excel.

How to Change the Position of Axis Labels in Excel

The labels for your axes in Excel charts are automatically generated from the source data for your charts. If you don’t like how they look, however, you have some control over where your axis labels appear.

To change the position of axis labels in Excel:

  1. Open the spreadsheet containing your chart and click on one of the axis labels.
  2. The Format Axis panel should appear to the right of the screen. Click the Axis Options icon.
    excel axis options
  3. Click Labels.
    excel labels
  4. To move your label, click the Label Position drop-down and select one of the options.
    excel label positionsNext to Axis positions the label adjacent to the relevant axis. You can change where that axis is positioned by following the steps in the next section.
    excel central labeled axisHigh positions the label next to the higher end of the values in your axis.
    excel label highLow positions the label next to the lower end of the values in your axis.
    excel label lowNone removes the label altogether.
    excel label none
  5. You can also change how far the label is from the axis by changing the value in the Distance from Axis field.
    excel distance from axis
  6. If you increase this number, the label will appear further from the axis.
    excel increased distance from axis

How to Change the Look of Axis Labels in Excel

As well as changing the position of your axis labels, you can also change how they appear to some extent.

To change the look of your axis labels in Excel:

  1. Click on the axis label you want to change.
  2. Click the Axis Options icon on the Format Axis panel.
    excel axis options
  3. Click Axis Options.
    excel axis options
  4. Depending on the type of data in your axis, you may see an option to set a Specific Interval Unit.
    excel label intervalChanging this allows you to determine how frequently your labels appear.
    excel interval gap
  5. You may also have the option to set the Bounds.excel axis boundsThis allows you to set a minimum and maximum value for your labels.
    excel edited bounds
  6. You may also have the option to set the values for the Major and Minor Units.excel axis unitsChanging these values allows you to determine the gap size between each value in your label.
    excel edited units
  7. You can also change the format of the numbers in your labels by clicking Number.
  8. Click the Category drop-down and select the format you require.
    excel number categoryYour label will change to reflect your choice.
    excel currency axis

How to Change Axis Positions in Excel

You can also choose where your axes appear on your chart if you’re not happy with the default position. This may be because the axis obscures part of your chart or would be more useful in a different position.

To change axis positions in Excel:

  1. Click on the axis you want to move.
  2. On the Format Axis panel, click the Axis Options icon.
    excel axis options
  3. Select Axis Options.
    excel axis options
  4. Under Vertical Axis Crosses or Horizontal Axis Crosses, select one of the three options.
    excel axis crosses optionsAutomatic will place the axis in the default position.
    At Category Number allows you to select which category the axis appears before. The default is zero; a higher number will move the position of the axis into the chart.
    excel central axisIf you have set the label position to Next to Axis in the section above, the label will also appear within the chart.
    excel central labeled axisAt Maximum Category will move the axis to the maximum value of the other axis.
    excel maximum axis

Upgrade Your Excel Chart Skills

Learning to change axis labels and positions in Excel allows you to create charts that look exactly like you want them to, rather than just sticking with the default options. It means you can create charts that are easier to read or look better.

There are plenty of other useful Excel chart tips and tricks that are worth knowing. For example, you can learn to use Excel Sparkline charts that fit inside a single cell. If you want to expand beyond bar or line charts, you can learn how to create a radar chart in Excel. And if you want to visualize data distributions, you can learn how to create a histogram in Excel.

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