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How to customize a value axis

In this video, we'll look at options for customizing a value axis in an Excel chart.

Here we have historical data showing average 30 year mortgage rates over a 5 year period. When I create a line chart, the vertical axis is a value axis showing the mortgage rate, and the horizontal axis is a category axis, grouping the data in specific date intervals.

Let's walk through some of the options for customizing the vertical value axis.

To start off, right-click and select Format axis.

Make sure you're on the axis options icon.

Settings are grouped in 4 areas: Axis options, Tick marks, Labels, and Number.

For a value axis, you'll find upper and lower bounds, major and minor units, the axis crossing point, a menu displaying units for large numbers, a checkbox for logarithmic scales, and a checkbox for plotting values in reverse order.

When you first create a chart, Excel sets the maximum and minimum values for the axis automatically, but you can override these defaults.

Since these are interest rates all over 3%, I'll set the minimum to 3. Notice Excel now displays a Reset button. You can use this button to reset default values.

Since interest rates are often published in units of a quarter of a percent, I'll set the major unit to .25.

Notice this changes the upper bound slightly.

The axis crossing point determines where the horizontal axis crosses the vertical axis.

There's need to change that in this chart.

Then we have display units, log scale, and reverse order. We'll look at these options in separate videos.

Next up is tick marks, which are linked to the major and minor units we set earlier. I'll remove the gridlines to make the tick marks easier to see.

Tick marks can be set to inside, outside, and cross.

Labels have to do with where the text appears with respect to the axis. In most cases, you'll want to leave this at next to axis, but notice you can set to none to leave the axis, but without the text labels.

Finally, we have the number area, where we find options for setting the number format used to display numbers.

Notice that the interest rate data does not consistently have 2 decimal places. To fix this, I'll apply a Number format set to 2 decimal places.

Notice "linked to source" is automatically unchecked. 

In the next video, we'll look at how to customize the category axis.

Course 
Core Charts

Related shortcuts

Author 
Dave Bruns