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Adjust the Chart Series Overlap in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac

Learn to adjust the gap between chart data series within a single category in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac. This spacing can help you optimize the space used to create better-looking charts.

Charts that include elements spaced apart look better. You can increase gap width so that there is enough space between categories. Also, you can adjust space between individual data series within a category. By default, charts in PowerPoint do not show any gap between individual data series within a category.

Look at Figure 1, below, where you can see a chart with a single category consisting of three data series. Note that all three data series are placed at the center of the category axis and there is little space between them, as shown with red arrows within Figure 1. This space can be adjusted using the Overlap option, as explained in this tutorial.

Figure 1: Chart with a single category consisting of three data series

Now, look at the same chart within Figure 2, below, where we have set the series overlap to -100%. As you can notice, the chart columns within Figure 2 are looking more spaced out than the chart within Figure 1, above.

Figure 2: Chart with series overlap of -100%

In the same chart, if we set the series overlap to 100%, then all data series within the category overlap each other completely, as shown in Figure 3, below. Do note that this is not a stacked chart, although it may appear so because the series are overlapping each other!

Figure 3: Chart with series overlap of 100%

Similar to chart gap width, series overlap is also calculated automatically based on the chart data and the plot area space. Fortunately, you can manually change this overlap as required by quickly increasing or decreasing the series overlap value.

Follow these steps to change the series overlap value PowerPoint 2011 for Mac:

  1. Select the chart that you want to change the series overlap for. If you don't have an existing chart, insert a new chart.
  2. Now, carefully right-click (or Ctrl+click) any of the data series. From the resultant menu, select the Format Data Series option, as shown in Figure 4, below. If you do not get the Format Data Series option within the contextual menu, you might have right-clicked on another chart element. Make sure you deselect everything in the chart, and then right-click on any series (for example, a single column within a column chart).

  3. Figure 4: Format Data Series option

  4. This action summons the Format Data Series dialog box, as shown in Figure 5, below. Make sure that Options is selected within the sidebar, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 5. Here, you will find the Overlap option, as shown highlighted in blue within Figure 5. Note that the Overlap value in percentage is initially set to zero which results in no gap between data series within a category, as shown in Figure 4, above.

  5. Figure 5: Series Overlap option within Format Data Series dialog box
  6. You can either directly type the required overlap value in percentage within the box provided, or click the Up or Down arrow buttons to increase or decrease the value by 1% per click. You can select any percentage value from -100% to 100%. Decrease the percentage value to increase the space between two data series within a category, or increase the percentage value to make the data series come closer to each other, and then to overlap each other. In Figure 6, below the chart has the gap width is set to -50%.

  7. Figure 6: Chart has the Overlap set to -50%
  8. Setting the overlap value to 50% will result in data series overlapping each other so that only half of the area for each series is visible (width-wise for column charts), except the last data series in a category, which would be fully visible, Figure 7, below.

  9. Figure 7: Chart data series with overlap value set to 50%
  10. Save your presentation often.

See Also:

Advanced Chart Techniques: Adjust the Chart Series Overlap (Glossary Page)

Adjust the Chart Series Overlap in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows