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By default, Microsoft Excel determines the minimum and maximum scale values of the value (y) axis (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.) in a chart. You can, however, customize the scale to better meet your needs.
- In a chart sheet (chart sheet: A sheet in a workbook that contains only a chart. A chart sheet is beneficial when you want to view a chart or a PivotChart report separately from worksheet data or a PivotTable report.) or an embedded chart (embedded chart: A chart that is placed on a worksheet rather than on a separate chart sheet. Embedded charts are beneficial when you want to view or print a chart or a PivotChart report with its source data or other information in a worksheet.), click the value (y) axis (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.) that you want to change.
How to select an axis
- Click the chart sheet or the embedded chart.
- On the Chart toolbar, click the arrow next to the Chart Objects box, and then click Category Axis or Value Axis.
Tip If you don't see the Chart toolbar, point to Toolbars on the View menu, and then select Chart. The Chart Objects box is available unless the toolbar has been anchored at the left or right side of the screen.
- On the Format menu, click Selected Axis.
Note The Selected Axis command is only available when a chart axis is selected.
- On the Scale tab, do one or more of the following:
Important The following scaling options are only available when a value (y) axis is selected. The Scale tab provides different options for a category (x) axis.
If you want to show a label that describes the units, select the Show display units label on chart check box.
Tip If the chart values are large numbers, you can make the axis text shorter and more readable by changing the display unit of the axis. For example, you can display chart values ranging from 1,000,000 to 50,000,000 as 1 to 50 on the axis and show a label that indicates that the units are expressed in millions.
- To change the value axis to logarithmic, select the Logarithmic scale check box.
Tip This type of scale is useful when the values that are plotted in the chart cover a very large range.
- To reverse the order of the values on the selected axis, select the Values in reverse order check box.
Note When you change the order of the values on the value (y) axis from bottom to top, the category labels on the category (x) axis will flip from the bottom to the top of the chart. Likewise, when you change the order of the categories from left to right, the value labels will flip from the left side to the right side of the chart.
- To specify the value at which the category (x) axis crosses the value (y) axis, type that value in the Category (X) axis crosses at box.
- To force the x-axis, cross the value axis at the highest value, and select the Category (X) axis crosses at maximum value check box. This effectively moves the category labels to the opposite side of the chart.
Note This option overrides the Category X crosses at value.
Tip XY (scatter) charts show values on both the category (x) axis and the value (y) axis, while line charts show values on only the value (y) axis. This difference is an important factor in deciding which chart type to use. Because the scale of the line chart's category axis can't be changed as much as the scale of the value axis that is used in the xy (scatter) chart, you might consider using an xy (scatter) chart instead of a line chart if you need to change the scaling of that axis or display it as a logarithmic scale.