Change the shape fill, outline, or effects of chart elements

You can instantly change the look of chart elements (such as the chart area (chart area: The entire chart and all its elements.), the 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 markers (data marker: A bar, area, dot, slice, or other symbol in a chart that represents a single data point or value that originates from a worksheet cell. Related data markers in a chart constitute a data series.), titles in charts (titles in charts: Descriptive text that is automatically aligned to an axis or centered at the top of a chart.), gridlines (gridlines in charts: Lines you can add to a chart that make it easier to view and evaluate data. Gridlines extend from the tick marks on an axis across the plot area.), 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.), tick marks (tick marks and tick-mark labels: Tick marks are small lines of measurement, similar to divisions on a ruler, that intersect an axis. Tick-mark labels identify the categories, values, or series in the chart.), trendlines (trendline: A graphic representation of trends in data series, such as a line sloping upward to represent increased sales over a period of months. Trendlines are used for the study of problems of prediction, also called regression analysis.), error bars (error bars: Usually used in statistical or scientific data, error bars show potential error or degree of uncertainty relative to each data marker in a series.), or the walls and floor (3-D walls and floor: The areas surrounding many 3-D chart types that give dimension and boundaries to the chart. Two walls and one floor are displayed within the plot area.) in 3-D charts) by applying a predefined shape style. You can also apply different shape fills, shape outlines, and shape effects to these chart elements.

Chart with formatting

What do you want to do?


Apply a predefined shape or line style

  1. On a chart, click the chart element that you want to change, or do the following to select it from a list of chart elements:
    1. Click a chart.
      This displays the Chart Tools, adding the Design, Layout, and Format tabs.
    2. On the Format tab, in the Current Selection group, click the arrow next to the Chart Elements box, and then click the chart element that you want to use.

Excel Ribbon

  1. On the Format tab, in the Shape Styles group, click a predefined shape style or line style.

Excel Ribbon

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

 Tip   If you don't like the change that you made, you can undo it immediately. On the Quick Access Toolbar, click Undo Button image, or press CTRL+Z.

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Apply a different shape fill

You can fill a selected shape (such as data markers, titles, data labels, or a legend) with a solid color, gradient, picture, or texture. You cannot use shape fill to format lines in a chart (such as gridlines, axes, trendlines, or error bars).

  1. On a chart, click the chart element that you want to change, or do the following to select it from a list of chart elements:
    1. Click a chart.
      This displays the Chart Tools, adding the Design, Layout, and Format tabs.
    2. On the Format tab, in the Current Selection group, click the arrow next to the Chart Elements box, and then click the chart element that you want to use.

Excel Ribbon

  1. On the Format tab, in the Shape Styles group, click Shape Fill.

Excel Ribbon

  1. 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.

 Tip   If you don't like the change that you made, you can undo it immediately. On the Quick Access Toolbar, click Undo Button image, or press CTRL+Z.

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Apply a different shape outline

You can change the color, width, and line style of lines in a chart (such as gridlines, axes, trendlines, or error bars), or you can create custom borders for selected shapes (such as data markers, titles, data labels, or a legend).

  1. On a chart, click the chart element that you want to change, or do the following to select it from a list of chart elements:
    1. Click a chart.
      This displays the Chart Tools, adding the Design, Layout, and Format tabs.
    2. On the Format tab, in the Current Selection group, click the arrow next to the Chart Elements box, and then click the chart element that you want to use.

Excel Ribbon

  1. On the Format tab, in the Shape Styles group, click Shape Outline.

Excel Ribbon

  1. 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.

 Tip   If you don't like the change that you made, you can undo it immediately. On the Quick Access Toolbar, click Undo Button image, or press CTRL+Z.

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Apply a different shape effect

You can apply visual effects (such as a shadow, glow, or bevel effects) to selected shapes (such as data markers, titles, data labels, or a legend) and lines (such as gridlines, axes, trendlines, or error bars).

  1. On a chart, click the chart element that you want to change, or do the following to select it from a list of chart elements:
    1. Click a chart.
      This displays the Chart Tools, adding the Design, Layout, and Format tabs.
    2. On the Format tab, in the Current Selection group, click the arrow next to the Chart Elements box, and then click the chart element that you want to use.

Excel Ribbon

  1. On the Format tab, in the Shape Styles group, click Shape Effects.

Excel Ribbon

  1. 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.

 Tip   If you don't like the change that you made, you can undo it immediately. On the Quick Access Toolbar, click Undo Button image, or press CTRL+Z.

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