Quick, clean, and to the point

Selecting chart elements

In this video, we'll look at how to select chart elements.

After you've created a chart, you have several options for selecting and customizing individual chart elements.

First, you can use the Chart Elements menu on the Format tab of the ribbon. After you select a chart, this menu will contain a list of the main chart elements.

You can use this menu to navigate to the chart title, the plot area, the data series, and so on. Once an element is selected, you'll see the name displayed here.

You can also click directly on a chart element to select. For example, I can click directly on a bar in this chart to select the data series.

Once I have the data series selected, I can click again on any bar to select only that bar.

It can sometimes be difficult to click the elements you want to select, so you can use your keyboard to select elements as well.

With a chart selected, the up and down arrow keys will move through the main chart elements. 

Starting with Excel 2016, you'll need to hold down the control key when you use the arrow keys to select chart elements.

Watch the menu on the ribbon or the format task pane change as you go.

Some elements, like the data series, legend, and data labels can have sub-elements. Use the right and left arrow keys to move between individual elements.

Again, with Excel 2016, you'll need to hold down the control key.

For example, I can select this chart, click the down arrow once to select the data series, then use the right and left arrows to move to each bar in the chart.

For more chart shortcuts, watch the video on this topic.

If you right-click directly on an element, you'll see the mini toolbar appear. Sometimes this can be a handy way to quickly format things like fill color, without worrying about the Ribbon or the Format task pane.

The mini toolbar also has a menu for selecting chart elements that you can use to navigate.

Finally, the format task pane has yet another menu for navigating chart elements, and a full range of controls for changing elements.

If the format task pane is hidden, you can double click an element in the chart to display it.

You can also select an element and use the keyboard shortcut Control + 1.

Once the Format Task Pane is visible, you'll find the menu for selecting chart elements directly below the main title. As different elements are selected, you'll see the menu and title change in the format task pane

If the Format tab of the ribbon is visible, you'll also see the Chart Elements menu changing there.

For more information on the Format Task Pane, see the video on that topic.

Dave Bruns