Display dates on a category axis

When you create a chart from worksheet data that uses dates, and the dates are plotted along the horizontal (category) axis in the chart, Microsoft Office Excel automatically changes the category axis to a date (time-scale) axis. You can also manually change a category axis to a date axis.

A date axis displays dates in chronological order at specific intervals or base units, such as the number of days, months, or years, even if the dates on the worksheet are not in sequential order or in the same base units.

By default, Excel determines the base units for the date axis, based on the smallest difference between any two dates in the worksheet data. For example, if you have data for stock prices where the smallest difference between dates is seven days, Excel sets the base unit to days, but you can change the base unit to months or years if you want to see the performance of the stock over a longer period of time.


Chart that uses a date axis

Chart that uses a date axis

What do you want to do?


Change the category axis to a date axis

  1. On a chart, click the category axis, or do the following to select the axis 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 Current Selection group, click Format Selection.
  2. In the Axis Options category, under Axis Type, click Date axis.

 Notes 

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Change the base unit that is displayed on a date axis

  1. On a chart, click the date axis for which you want to change the base unit, or do the following to select the axis 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 Current Selection group, click Format Selection.
  2. In the Axis Options category, under Axis Options, click Fixed for Base Unit and then, in the Base Unit box, click Days, Months, or Years.

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