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Adjust the Chart Series Overlap in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac

Learn how to adjust the gap between the chart data series within a single category in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac.


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Product/Version: PowerPoint 2011 for Mac

OS: Mac OS X






Charts that include elements spaced apart look better. You can increase the Gap width so that there is enough space between the categories. Also, you can adjust the space between the individual Data Series within a category. By default, charts in PowerPoint 2011 do not show any gap between the individual Data Series within a category.

Look at Figure 1 below where you can see a chart with 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.

Chart with single category consisting of three Data Series
Figure 1: Chart with single category consisting of three Data Series

Now, look at the same chart within Figure 2 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.

Chart with Series Overlap to -100%
Figure 2: Chart with Series Overlap to -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. Do note that this is not a Stacked chart, the series are overlapping each other!

Chart with Series Overlap to 100%
Figure 3: Chart with Series Overlap to 100%

Similar to the chart Gap width, Series Overlap is also calculated automatically based on the chart data and the Plot Area space. However, you can manually change this Overlap as required by quickly increasing or decreasing the value. Follow these steps to explore more:

  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 Seriess -- from the resultant menu, select the Format Data Series option, as shown in Figure 4. If you do not get the Format Data Series option within the contextual menu, you might have right-clicked on another chart element, then, make sure you deselect anything in the chart, and then right-click on any series (for example, a single column within a column chart).

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

    Series Overlap option within Format Data Series dialog box
    Figure 5: Series Overlap option within Format Data Series dialog box
  4. You can either directly type the required Overlap percentage within the box provided, or click the up/down arrow buttons to increase/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 the chart has the gap width set to -50%.

    Chart has the Overlap set to -50%
    Figure 6: Chart has the Overlap set to -50%

    Setting the Overlap to 50% would make the Data Series to overlap each other in such a way that only half of each of them (width-wise) except the last Data Series in a category is visible, as shown in Figure 7.

    Chart has the Overlap set to 50%
    Figure 7: Chart has the Overlap set to 50%
  5. Save your presentation often.

See Also:

Adjust the Chart Series Overlap in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows

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