Editing Charts

Excel charts let you illustrate your workbook data graphically to see trends. Learn how to edit charts in Excel in this free lesson.

Introduction

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

Changing the data in a chart

When you add a chart to your worksheet, Excel creates a link between the chart and your source data. This way, any changes you make to the original source data are instantly reflected in your chart.

You can also add rows or columns of data to an existing chart by selecting Add Data on the Chart menu.

To add data to an existing chart:

  • Select the chart you want to edit.
  • Choose ChartAdd Data.

    chart menu

  • Enter the range you want to add in the Add Data dialog box, or select the range of cells you want to add to your chart.
  • Click OK.

    add data dialog box

Your chart should update to display the new data.

chart with two data sets

Editing the chart title

Be sure to select a meaningful title for your chart.

To change the title of a chart:

  • Click the chart title.
  • Use the cursor to select text.


    chart with title selected

  • Make any changes you want to the text.
  • Click anywhere outside of the title to apply your changes.

Formatting the chart title

In addition to selecting the right title for your chart, you can use the Format Chart Title dialog box to apply several types of formatting, including:

  • Title color and pattern
  • Font, size and style
  • Title alignment

To format the chart title:

  • Select the chart title.
  • Click the format button format button on the Chart toolbar, or double-click the chart title.
  • Use the different tabs of the Format Chart Title dialog box to apply formatting to your title.
  • Click OK.

    chart title format dialog box

Formatting the chart legend

The chart legend displays useful information. Be sure to format the legend so it is as clear as possible.

chart title format dialog box

To format the chart legend:

  • If the legend is not showing, press the show/hide legend button legend buttonon the Chart toolbar.
  • Click the chart legend.
  • Click the format button format button on the Chart toolbar, or double-click the chart legend.
  • Use the different tabs of the Format Chart Legend dialog box to apply formatting to the legend.
  • Click OK.

    chart title format dialog box

Important Point The only way to change the actual text of the legend is to make changes to the source data.

Formatting the value and category axes

You have several options when formatting the value and category axes of your chart. In addition to changing font, color, and style, you can adjust the numbers on the scale of the chart.

chart

To format a chart axis:

  • Select the axis you want to edit.
  • Click the format button format button on the Chart toolbar, or double-click the chart axis.
  • Use the different tabs of the Format Axis dialog box to apply formatting.
  • Click OK.

    format axis dialog box

Important Point You can also use the angle axis buttons Angle Axis button on the Chart toolbar to change the angle of the value and category axes.

format axis dialog box

Changing the color of a data series

You can apply formatting to each data series of a chart. Although you can change different aspects of each data series, you will probably find that you change the color of bars, columns, pie slices, and areas most often.

To change the color of a data series:

  • Select the data series you want to edit.

    select data series

  • Click the format button format button on the Chart toolbar, or double-click the data series.
  • Use the Format Data Series dialog box to pick a new color.

    format data sereis dialog box

  • Click OK.

Your chart should display the new colors.

chart with different colors

Challenge!

  • Practice formatting the different parts of a chart.
  • Try the following formatting changes on a chart:
    • Change the font and size of the title.
    • Angle the category axis labels.
    • Change the scale of the value axis.
    • Use new colors for each data series in your chart.