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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.

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Author: Geetesh Bajaj

Product/Version: Microsoft PowerPoint 2010
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.

Major and Minor Units displayed on the Value axis
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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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:

  1. 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 represented here.

    Chart inserted
    Figure 2: Chart inserted

  2. 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.

    Minor Tick marks visible on the Vertical (Value) Axis
    Figure 3: Minor Tick marks visible on the Vertical (Value) Axis

  3. 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 Axis.

    Format Axis option for the Vertical (Value) Axis is selected
    Figure 4: Format Axis option for the Vertical (Value) Axis is selected

  4. 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).

    Format Axis dialog box
    Figure 5: Format Axis dialog box

  5. 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.

    Major unit value changed
    Figure 6: Major unit value changed

    Note: Choose the Major unit value based on the highest value you have for the Vertical (Value) Axis.


  6. 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.

    Major unit value change reflecting on the chart
    Figure 7: Major unit value change reflecting on the chart

  7. 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).

    Default Minor unit value within Format Axis dialog box
    Figure 8: Default Minor unit value within Format Axis dialog box

  8. 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
    Figure 9: Minor unit value changed within Format Axis dialog box

  9. 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 10.

    Minor unit value change reflecting on the chart
    Figure 10: Minor unit value change reflecting on the chart

  10. Save your presentation.

See Also:

Change Major and Minor Units of Value Axis in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows
Change Major and Minor Units of Value Axis in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac
Change Major Unit of Y Axis in PowerPoint 2007 for Windows
Change Major Unit of Y Axis in PowerPoint 2002 and 2003 for Windows

 

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