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Adjust the Chart Series Overlap in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows

Learn to adjust the gap between chart data series within a single category in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows. This spacing can help you optimize the space used to create better-looking charts.


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Product/Version: PowerPoint 2013 for Windows

OS: Microsoft Windows 7 and higher



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Presentation Management 12: Interactive Presentations



Your PowerPoint charts can look better if they are spaced apart well. 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. 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.

Chart with single category consisting of three Data Series
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 within Figure 2, is looking more spaced out than the chart within Figure 1, above.

Chart with Series Overlap to -100%
Figure 2: Chart with a series overlap of -100%

Similar to chart gap width, Series Overlap is also calculated automatically by default in PowerPoint 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 2013 for Windows:

  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 any of the data series. From the resultant menu, select the Format Data Series option, as shown in Figure 3, below. 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 everything in the chart, and then right-click on any series (for example, a single column within a column chart).
  3. Format Data Series option
    Figure 3: Format Data Series option
  4. This action summons the Format Data Series Task Pane, as shown in Figure 4, below. Click the Series Options button, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 4. Here, you will find the Series Overlap option, as shown highlighted in blue within Figure 4.
  5. Series Overlap option within Format Data Series Task Pane
    Figure 4: Series Overlap option within Format Data Series Task Pane
  6. You can either directly type the required Series Overlap percentage value within the box provided, or click the Up or Down arrow buttons to increase or decrease the value by 1% per click. Also, you can use the slider to increase or decrease the value. Decrease the value to increase the space between two data series within a category, or increase the value to make the data series overlap each other. In Figure 5, below, the chart has the series overlap set to -100% whereas the chart within Figure 6 has the series overlap set to 0%. Compare Figures 5 and 6.
  7. Chart has the Series Overlap set to -100%
    Figure 5: Chart has the series overlap set to -100%
  8. Chart has the Series Overlap set to 0%
    Figure 6: Chart has the series overlap set to 0%
  9. Figure 7, below, shows our sample chart with the series overlap set to 50% so that data series overlap each other.
  10. Chart has the Series Overlap set to 50%
    Figure 7: Chart has the series overlap set to 50%
  11. Save your presentation often.

See Also:

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

Adjust the Chart Series Overlap in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac

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