Change Major and Minor Units of Value Axis in PowerPoint 2010
Learn how to change the Major and Minor units of Value axis, and explore other Y-axis options in PowerPoint 2010.
Author: Geetesh Bajaj
Product/Version: Microsoft PowerPoint
OS: Microsoft Windows XP / Vista / 7 / 8
While learning about chart axes, you will come across two terms, Major and Minor units. These are the intervals at which the axis spaces itself -- as the name itself suggests, you can choose to space the axis at two levels: Major and Minor. Look at Figure 1, below and you'll see a chart that has both Major and Minor Units displayed on the Value axis. All the units pointed with blue arrows are Major, and green arrows display Minor Units.
Figure 1: Major and Minor Units displayed on the Value axis
By default, PowerPoint sets the Major and Minor units on its own -- many times, this may be exactly what you need. At other times, you may want to set your own intervals for the Major and Minor units for several reasons. But before you do so, a word of caution -- do remember that any of these changes can have three implications:
- Values: The values that you see placed on the value axis reflect the Major units you choose. However, any changes you
make to Minor units do not influence the displayed values -- since values of Minor unit values are not displayed on the axis.
- Tick Marks: The tick marks you see again change depending upon the intervals you choose for both Major and Minor
units -- of course this depends upon whether you have opted to display tick marks or not -- refer to our
Tick Marks on Chart Axes in PowerPoint 2010 tutorial
to learn more.
- Gridlines: The gridlines shown change as well -- again the appearance of these gridlines will be influenced by whether you have made them visible or not.
The Major unit influences the difference between the two Major tick marks on the Value axis. Similarly, the Minor unit influences the difference between the two Minor tick marks on the Value axis. By default these values are automatically decided by the Minimum and Maximum scale values on the Value axis. Still, you can change them to suit your needs, as explained in this tutorial.
Follow these steps to learn more:
- To start with, you need a chart inserted on your
slide -- for this tutorial we have selected a Column chart, as shown in Figure 2, below. As you can see,
the default chart shows only Major units for both
tick marks and gridlines. No Minor units are
Figure 2: Chart inserted
- To see the effect of the Minor units on your chart, turn on the
Minor tick marks on the Vertical (Value)
Axis as shown in Figure 3, below.
Figure 3: Minor Tick marks visible on the Vertical (Value) Axis
- Now, carefully right-click on the Vertical (Value) Axis (the axis towards the left of the plot area) to select it.
Then, right-click to bring up a contextual menu that you see in Figure 4 -- select the Format Axis option
(refer to Figure 4 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 Value
Figure 4: Format Axis option for the Vertical (Value) Axis is selected
- This summons the Format Axis dialog box. Make sure that the Axis Options is selected in the sidebar,
as shown in Figure 5. Note that Major unit option is set to Auto by default which is
indicated by the selected status of the Auto radio button associated with it. Also note that it is set to
1.0 (highlighted in red within Figure 5).
Figure 5: Format Axis dialog box
- Now, let us change the Major unit value. Select the Fixed radio button associated with it to take it out of
Auto mode, and enter the new value in the box (highlighted in red within
Figure 6). We changed the value to 2.
Figure 6: Major unit value changed
Note: Choose the Major unit value based on the highest value you have for the Vertical (Value) Axis.
- When done, click the Close button to apply the change and get back to the chart. In Figure 7 you can
see that the value axis' Major unit values now show an interval of 2 points. This makes the chart look cleaner and gives it more visual
breathing space. Compare Figures 3 and 7.
Figure 7: Major unit value change reflecting on the chart
- To change the Minor unit, access the Format Axis dialog box again (see Steps 3 and
4) -- make sure that the Axis Options is active in the sidebar as shown in Figure 8.
As you can see in Figure 8, the default Minor unit value is set to 0.2 (highlighted in
red within Figure 8).
Figure 8: Default Minor unit value within Format Axis dialog box
- Now, select the Fixed radio button associated with it to take it out of Auto mode, and add the new
required value in the box. We changed the value to 0.1, as shown highlighted in red within
Figure 9: Minor unit value changed within Format Axis dialog box
- When done, click the Close button to apply the change and get back to the chart. In Figure 10 you
can see that the value axis' Minor unit values now show a difference of 0.1 points. Compare Figures 3 and
Figure 10: Minor unit value change reflecting on the chart
- Save your presentation.
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