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Tick Marks on Chart Axes in PowerPoint 2013

Learn about the Tick Marks, both Major and Minor on chart axes in PowerPoint 2013.


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







When you look at charts on a PowerPoint slide from afar, you make out the value of a series by exploring where exactly it's placed vis-à-vis the axis. Of course, if your chart has data labels that identify values, then this is less of an issue. In the sample chart we have shown below in Figure 1, you'll notice that the first column that is representing Grapes in 2009 is a little taller than the value 4 in the adjacent axis, indicating a rough value of around 4.25 -- we're still not sure.

By default Tick Marks are not displayed on the chart in PowerPoint 2013
Figure 1: By default Tick Marks are not displayed on the chart in PowerPoint 2013

So what is the solution to this problem? Tick Marks placed on the axes will help us get a better idea. Look at Figure 2 now, where we have enabled the Tick Marks -- a few tick marks have been highlighted in red and blue within Figure 2. We chose two colors to highlight these tick marks because most chart types show two types of tick marks on axes -- Major (highlighted in red) and Minor (highlighted in blue).

Major and Minor Tick marks on chart axes
Figure 2: Major and Minor Tick marks on chart axes

Major tick marks are indications on an axis that show up:

  • Between the categories on the Horizontal axis, and,
  • Besides Major Unit values on the Vertical axis

Both are shown in Figure 2, above (highlighted in red).

Note: Can't see the Horizontal gridlines in Figure 2, above? We have disabled them so that the Tick marks in various positions are clearly visible in our screenshots.

Minor tick marks are those tick marks that appear between the Major tick marks on an axis -- typically PowerPoint charts do not display Minor tick marks, but we enabled them in the chart shown in Figure 2 (highlighted in blue). Minor tick marks help users measure the distance between the Major tick marks.

If you look at this picture of a ruler (picture sourced from erstwhile Office.com), you'll recollect that both Major and Minor tick marks have been available in all types of rulers we have used -- even the rulers used in primary school.

Illustration of a ruler

In this tutorial we will learn how to show/hide these tick marks and also where you display these Major and Minor tick marks in PowerPoint 2013:

  1. Open your presentation and insert a chart on your slide. Start with defaults, as we did for the basic Column chart shown in Figure 1 earlier on this page.

  2. Click and select the chart axis for which you want to change the Tick marks -- thereafter right-click to bring up a contextual menu as shown in Figure 3. In this contextual menu, select the Format Axis option (refer to Figure 3 again). If you do not get the Format Axis option in the contextual menu, you may have right-clicked on another chart element -- make sure you then deselect anything in the chart, and then right-click on the selected axis.

    Format Axis option selected for the Value Axis
    Figure 3: Format Axis option selected for the Value Axis

  3. This opens the Format Axis Task Pane, as shown in Figure 4. In this Task Pane, select the Axis Options tab (highlighted in red within Figure 4), click the Axis Options button, shown highlighted in blue within Figure 4. This opens all Axis editing options - select the Tick Marks option (highlighted in green within Figure 4).

    Tick Marks option selected within the Format Axis dialog box
    Figure 4: Tick Marks option selected within the Format Axis dialog box

    As you can see in Figure 4 above, there are two boxes -- Major type and and Minor type. Both of these boxes include the same position options for the Major and Minor tick marks (look at Figure 5) vis-à-vis the axis.

    Tick Marks option selected within the Format Axis dialog box
    Figure 5: Tick Marks option selected within the Format Axis dialog box

    Let's explore these position options that you can see in Figure 5, above -- and illustrated in Figures 6, 7, 8, and 9:

    1. None: As the name suggests, this option hides Tick marks.

    2. Inside: Places Tick marks inside the plot area.

    3. Outside: Places Tick marks outside of the plot area.

    4. Cross: Places Tick marks on the axis overlapping the axis, crossing it.

    Figure 6 shows all types of the Major tick marks on Value Axis when we selected the None, Inside, Outside, and Cross options.

    Types of Major Tick marks on Value axis from left to right (None, Inside, Outside, and Cross)
    Figure 6: Types of Major Tick marks on Value axis from left to right (None, Inside, Outside, and Cross)

    Figure 7 shows the types of the Minor tick marks on Value Axis when we selected None, Inside, Outside, and Cross options.

    Types of Minor Tick marks on Value axis from left to right (None, Inside, Outside, and Cross)
    Figure 7: Types of Minor Tick marks on Value axis from left to right (None, Inside, Outside, and Cross)

    Figure 8 shows the types of the Major tick marks on Category Axis when we selected None, Inside, Outside, and Cross options.

    Types of Major Tick marks on Category axis from left to right (None, Inside, Outside, and Cross)
    Figure 8: Types of Major Tick marks on Category axis from top to bottom (None, Inside, Outside, and Cross)

    Figure 9 shows the types of the Minor tick marks on Category Axis when we selected None, Inside, Outside, and Cross options.

    Types of Minor Tick marks on Category axis from left to right (None, Inside, Outside, and Cross)
    Figure 9: Types of Minor Tick marks on Category axis from left to right (None, Inside, Outside, and Cross)

  4. Select any of the Tick Mark position. Save your presentation often.

Note: The Minor tick marks and the Major tick marks overlap each other at the position of Major tick marks -- this is so familiar to all of you because that's how the everyday common geometrical ruler works. So, if you hide Major tick marks but still show Minor tick marks, the Minor tick marks appear at the regular Major tick-mark positions too -- but of course, these are not as pronounced.

See Also:

Tick Marks on Chart Axes in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac
Tick Marks on Chart Axes in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows

 

PowerPoint Keyboard Shortcuts PowerPoint Keyboard Shortcuts and Sequences:
PowerPoint 2013, 2011, 2010, 2007 and 2003

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?

Go and get a copy of our PowerPoint Keyboard Shortcuts and Sequences E-Book.

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