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Add Secondary Value Axis to Charts in PowerPoint 2013

Learn how to add a Secondary Value axis to charts in PowerPoint 2013.

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Author: Geetesh Bajaj

Product/Version: Microsoft PowerPoint 2013
OS: Microsoft Windows 7 / 8







Sometimes your data type may require a second axis. The sample data that we took for this tutorial pertains to the average temperature and rainfall in London across the 12 calendar months of a year. Figure 1 below shows a chart that depicts this data from January to December. The temperature is depicted in Celsius and the rainfall is in millimeters. What you should note carefully is that the value range of temperature spans between 30 and 70, whereas the range for rainfall is in between 0 to 12 (approximately). A chart that results from this data doesn't live up to the comparison since we are trying to compare items that are from different data ranges.

Chart with two Data Series
Figure 1: Chart with two Data Series

To help your audience comprehend this data better, you could create two charts - but that's an overkill since there's a better, more elegant solution. You should span this data on two Value axes within the same chart - one for the temperature and the other for the rainfall. In this tutorial, you are going to learn how to add a Secondary Value axis to your charts in PowerPoint 2013 to overcome this kind of problem.

Tip: To learn more about axes, refer to our Axes in PowerPoint Charts tutorial.

Follow these steps to get started:

  1. Open your presentation and navigate to the slide that contains your chart. Within the chart, select the series to which you want to add a second Value axis. Right-click this series to access the contextual menu, as shown Figure 2. From this contextual menu, chose the Format Data Series option (refer to Figure 2 again).

    Format Data Series option selected
    Figure 2: Format Data Series option selected

  2. This opens the Format Data Series Task Pane, as shown in Figure 3. Make sure that the Series Options button is selected as shown highlighted in red within Figure 3. Then, select the Series Options (highlighted in blue within Figure 3) within the Format Data Series Task Pane. Thereafter, select the Secondary Axis radio button (highlighted in green within Figure 3).

    Secondary axis radio button selected for one of the series
    Figure 3: Secondary axis radio button selected for one of the series

  3. This adds a secondary Value axis that maps your selected series, as shown in Figure 4. Note that the Axis labels on both the Value axes show different numbered ranges -- while the Primary Value axis displays minimum and maximum values between 0 and 14, the Secondary Value axis spans a completely different range between 0 and 80.

    Secondary Value Axis added
    Figure 4: Secondary Value Axis added

    We might have solved the problem of comprehending the actual values better now, but we have a new problem to solve! As you can see in Figure 4 above, the Data Series are overlapping each other. Columns depicting rainfall are completely hiding most of the columns representing the Average temperature.

  4. To solve this problem, you need to change the chart type of any one of the Series. Select the Series that you want to change the type of, and right-click to access the contextual menu, as shown Figure 5. From the contextual menu, chose the Change Series Chart Type option (refer to Figure 5 again).

    Change the Chart Type of selected Series
    Figure 5: Change the Chart Type of selected Series

  5. This brings up the Change Chart Type dialog box as shown in Figure 6. Select the Combo option as shown highlighted in red within Figure 6 and then click on the Clustered Column - Line on Secondary Axis variant type (highlighted in blue within Figure 6). Click the OK button.

    Change Chart Type dialog box
    Figure 6: Change Chart Type dialog box

  6. This changes the selected Series to the new chart type. In Figure 7 you can see that the Series representing the rainfall has changed to a Line.

    Chart type changed
    Figure 7: Chart type changed

  7. Your chart at this stage needs little more modification since there are no markers visible on the point to represent the value. To make the marker visible right-click the Data Series represented by line, and from the contextual menu select the Format Data Series option.

    Format Data Series option selected
    Figure 8: Format Data Series option selected

  8. This opens the Format Data Series Task Pane, as shown in Figure 9. Make sure that the Fill & Line button is selected as shown highlighted in red within Figure 9. Then, select the Marker tab (highlighted in blue within Figure 9) in the Format Data Series Task Pane. Thereafter, select Marker Options (highlighted in green within Figure 9).

    Marker options within the Format Data Series Task Pane
    Figure 9: Marker options within the Format Data Series Task Pane

  9. This reveals various options to format the Marker as shown in Figure 10. Select the Built-in radio button (highlighted in red within Figure 10). Then click the down-arrow provided with the Type option (highlighted in blue within Figure 10) to open the Type drop-down menu that contains various Marker types, as shown in Figure 10. Click on the Marker type of your choice.

    Marker type selected
    Figure 10: Marker type selected

  10. You can also change the size of the marker. In Figure 11 you can see that we have set the Size value to 10.

    Marker size set to 10
    Figure 11: Marker size set to 10

  11. Then optionally change the color of the Marker to make it stand apart on the line. To do that, select the Fill option (highlighted in red within Figure 12) within the Marker tab and click the Color button (highlighted in blue within Figure 12) to open the Color drop-down gallery that contains various color palettes, as shown in Figure 12. Click on the color palette of your choice. The options within the Color drop-down gallery are explained further in our Apply Solid Fills to Plot Area of Charts in PowerPoint 2013 tutorial. Even though the tutorial is specific to Plot Area, they pertain to Markers as well -- refer to Step 4 within that tutorial.

    Select a color for the Marker
    Figure 12: Select a color for the Marker

  12. This adds Markers to the Line representing the Secondary Axis data values, as shown in Figure 13.

    Markers added to the Line representing the Secondary Axis data values
    Figure 13: Markers added to the Line representing the Secondary Axis data values

    Creating a combination chart of this type with two series makes your data appear so much better -- and it also ends up being so much easier on the eye for your audience. You cannot compare apples and oranges, but they can still coexist!

  13. If you try to analyze the chart shown in Figure 13 above, you will realize that there's no easy way to identify if a particular series uses the Primary axis or the Secondary axis. With just two series, this is an easy problem to solve -- we just changed the text fill color of both the axes labels to match the color of the respective series and marker points, as shown in Figure 14 (compare Figures 13 and 14).

    Font color changed for the Secondary Axis labels
    Figure 14: Font color changed for the Secondary Axis labels

  14. Save your presentation.

See Also: Add Secondary Value Axis to Charts in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac

 

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Have your ever used keyboard shortcuts and sequences in PowerPoint? Or are you a complete keyboard aficionado? Do you want to learn about some new shortcuts? Or do you want to know if your favorite keyboard shortcuts are documented?

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