Change the format of chart elements

You can change the format of individual chart elements, such as the chart area (chart area: The entire chart and all its elements.), plot area (plot area: In a 2-D chart, the area bounded by the axes, including all data series. In a 3-D chart, the area bounded by the axes, including the data series, category names, tick-mark labels, and axis titles.), data series (data series: Related data points that are plotted in a chart. Each data series in a chart has a unique color or pattern and is represented in the chart legend. You can plot one or more data series in a chart. Pie charts have only one data series.), axes (axis: A line bordering the chart plot area used as a frame of reference for measurement. The y axis is usually the vertical axis and contains data. The x-axis is usually the horizontal axis and contains categories.), titles (titles in charts: Descriptive text that is automatically aligned to an axis or centered at the top of a chart.), data labels (data label: A label that provides additional information about a data marker, which represents a single data point or value that originates from a worksheet cell.), or legend (legend: A box that identifies the patterns or colors that are assigned to the data series or categories in a chart.). You can use the Format <Chart Element> dialog box to make formatting changes, or you can apply predefined or custom shape styles. You can also format the text in a chart element.

 Note   Microsoft Office Excel 2007 does not provide pattern fills. For information about how to apply pattern fills, see Microsoft Excel Blog: Chart pattern fills.

What do you want to do?


Change the format of a selected chart element

  1. In a chart, click the chart element that you want to change, or do the following to select the chart element from a list of chart elements:
  1. Click anywhere in the chart.

This displays the Chart Tools, adding the Design, Layout, and Format tabs.

  1. On the Format tab, in the Current Selection group, click the arrow next to the Chart Elements box, and then select the chart element that you want to format.

Excel Ribbon Image

  1. On the Format tab, in the Current Selection group, click Format Selection.
  2. In the Format <Chart Element> dialog box, click a category, and then select the formatting options that you want.

 Note   Depending on the selected chart element, different formatting options are available in this dialog box.

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Change the shape style of a selected chart element

  1. In a chart, click the chart element that you want to change, or do the following to select the chart element from a list of chart elements:
  1. Click anywhere in the chart.

This displays the Chart Tools, adding the Design, Layout, and Format tabs.

  1. On the Format tab, in the Current Selection group, click the arrow next to the Chart Elements box, and then select the chart element that you want to format.

Excel Ribbon Image

  1. On the Format tab, in the Shape Styles group, do one of the following:

Shape Styles group on Excel Ribbon

  • To apply a predefined shape style, in the shape style box, click the style that you want.

 Tip   To see all available shape styles, click the More button Button image.

  • To apply a different shape fill, click Shape Fill, and then do one of the following:
  • To use a different fill color, under Theme Colors or Standard Colors, click the color that you want to use.

 Tip   Before you apply a different color, you can quickly preview how that color affects the chart. When you point to colors that you may want to use, the selected chart element will be displayed in that color on the chart.

  • To remove the color from the selected chart element, click No Fill.
  • To use a fill color that is not available under Theme Colors or Standard Colors, click More Fill Colors. In the Colors dialog box, specify the color that you want to use on the Standard or Custom tab, and then click OK.

Custom fill colors that you create are added under Recent Colors so that you can use them again.

  • To fill the shape with a picture, click Picture. In the Insert Picture dialog box, click the picture that you want to use, and then click Insert.
  • To use a gradient effect for the selected fill color, click Gradient, and then under Variations, click the gradient style that you want to use.

For additional gradient styles, click More Gradients, and then in the Fill category, click the gradient options that you want to use.

  • To use a texture fill, click Texture, and then click the texture that you want to use.
  • To apply a different shape outline, click Shape Outline, and then do one of the following:
  • To use a different outline color, under Theme Colors or Standard Colors, click the color that you want to use.
  • To remove the outline color from the selected chart element, click No Outline.

 Note   If the selected element is a line, the line will no longer be visible on the chart.

  • To use an outline color that is not available under Theme Colors or Standard Colors, click More Outline Colors. In the Colors dialog box, specify the color that you want to use on the Standard or Custom tab, and then click OK.

Custom outline colors that you create are added under Recent Colors so that you can use them again.

  • To change the weight of a line or border, click Weight, and then click the line weight that you want to use.

For additional line style or border style options, click More Lines, and then click the line style or border style options that you want to use.

  • To use a dashed line or border, click Dashes, and then click the dash type that you want to use.

For additional dash-type options, click More Lines, and then click the dash type that you want to use.

  • To add arrows to lines, click Arrows, and then click the arrow style that you want to use. You cannot use arrow styles for borders.

For additional arrow style or border style options, click More Arrows, and then click the arrow setting that you want to use.

  • To apply a different shape effect, click Shape Effects, click an available effect, and then select the type of effect that you want to use.

 Note   Available shape effects depend on the chart element that you selected. Preset, reflection, and bevel effects are not available for all chart elements.

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Change the format of text in a selected chart element

To format the text in chart elements, you can use regular text formatting options, or you can apply a WordArt format.

Use text formatting to format text in chart elements

  1. Click the chart element that contains the text that you want to format.
  2. Right-click the text or select the text that you want to format, and then do one of the following:
  • Click the formatting options that you want on the Mini toolbar.

Excel Ribbon Image

  • On the Home tab, in the Font group, click the formatting buttons that you want to use.

Excel Ribbon Image

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Use WordArt styles to format text in chart elements

  1. In a chart, click the chart element that contains the text that you want to change, or do the following to select the chart element from a list of chart elements:
  1. Click anywhere in the chart.

This displays the Chart Tools, adding the Design, Layout, and Format tabs.

  1. On the Format tab, in the Current Selection group, click the arrow next to the Chart Elements box, and then select the chart element that you want to format.

Excel Ribbon Image

  1. On the Format tab, in the WordArt Styles group, do one of the following:

Excel Ribbon Image

  • To apply a predefined WordArt style, click the style that you want.

 Tip   To see all available WordArt styles, click the More button Button image.

  • To apply a custom WordArt style, click Text Fill, Text Outline, or Text Effects, and then select the formatting options that you want.

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Applies to:
Excel 2007, Outlook 2007, PowerPoint 2007, Word 2007