How to Change Axis Labels in Excel

How to Change Axis Labels in Excel

Excel has several different types of graphs and charts to choose from. In most of these, data represented on the axes have labels to help viewers understand the meaning of each axis. This guide shows you how to:

  • Change the text on axis labels
  • Change the format or appearance of axis labels

Change the text of axis labels

There are two main ways to change what a label says on your Excel graph.

Method 1: Changing the source data

After making a graph based on your data, you will see that the axes automatically show text present in the source data. So, if you wish to change the text of the axes: 

  1. First, decide which axis labels you want to change (e.g., the x or y-axis).
  2. Then, change the source data of the corresponding axis you want to change. For example, in the image below, “Quantity” is represented on the x-axis. For our example, we can observe a typo in the D4 cell, which must be changed from Q11 to Q1. By changing the data in the cell, you will be able to change the text on the axis.

    Correlation between source data and axis label
    The data in the “Quantity” column is represented on the x-axis

  3. The same changes can be observed in the chart when we correct the typo “Q11” to “Q1”.

    Changed Label Q11 to Q1
    Changing the source data will automatically reflect on the graph

Method 2: Using chart data options

You can also change the text of the axis without modifying your source data: 

  1. Right-click on the graph. You will see a menu listing several options. 
  2. Click on Select Data.

    Select Data option
    Right-click on the chart and click on Select Data.

  3. A pop-up window will appear. Under “Horizontal (Category) Axis Labels”, select Edit.

    Edit Horizontal Label Category
    You can see the horizontal axis labels on the right side of the box. Click the Edit option under this.

  4. A new Axis Labels box will appear. Enter your desired label names in the text box under “Axis label range”, using a comma to separate each label.

    Entering New Axis Labels
    Enter your values as comma-separated label names in the text box provided.

  5. And voila! You should see the text changes updated in the chart.

    New, Changed Axis Labels
    We can see the labels of the horizontal axis have been changed.

Change the appearance of axis labels

This section will show you how to change the styling of axis labels on excel. For example, you can change the font, font style, font size, or color. You can also customize other visual features, such as the spacing between labels and within a label.

Changing the font

  1. Right-click on the axis that you wish to format. 
  2. On the drop-down menu, select Font.

    Font Option
    Right-click on the axis and select Font…

  3. A menu box should appear containing two tabs, Font, and Character spacing.

    Font and Character Spacing options
    You can change the font and character Spacing on this tab

  4. The Font tab provides options to change font family, style, size, color, etc. The character spacing tab will provide you with text spacing options. 
  5. After making your changes, select OK, and they will automatically be implemented on your graph.

Changing label positioning

  1. Double-click on the axis you want to change.
  2. The “Format Axis” panel appears on the right. Under Axis Options, select Labels.
    Label Options Tab
    Open the “Format Axis” panel and select Labels

    You will find options to modify the interval between labels, the distance between the labels and the axis, and the positioning of the labels.

    Labels Options available
    Change the positioning of labels in the “Format Axis” panel.

Changing number formatting

  1. Double-click on the axis you want to change.
  2. In the “Format Axis” panel, select Number.
    Number options Tab
    Select the Number option in the Format Axis panel.

    You will be presented with options to change the format of numbers on the axis. For example, you can change the number of decimal places, and if you want to use a comma “1000 Separator” (,).

    Note: Clicking the Linked to source check box ensures the numbers displayed on axis labels are derived from the source data provided.

    Number options available
    You can change how numbers are displayed here.

Phoebe is an HR assistant in her day job, but is also a web blogger that loves writing guides and sharing her experiences. When she is not out with her friends, she enjoys traveling or binge-watching Netflix. She graduated with a BA in Communication and Media Studies from the University of Utah, and is a chief editor at TechObservatory.

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