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 can see a chart that has both Major and Minor units displayed on the Value axis. All the units pointed with blue arrows are Major units, and green arrows display Minor units.
Figure 1: Major and minor units displayed on the value axis
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 specific 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:
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 minor unit values are not displayed on the axis.
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 2013 tutorial to learn more.
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.
Changing Major Units of value axis
Follow these steps to change the Major units of the Value axis:
- 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 in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows shows only Primary Major Gridlines, and there are no Tick Marks.
Figure 2: Chart inserted
- To see the effect of the change in Major and Minor units on your chart, turn on the major and minor tick arks on the vertical (value) axis, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 3, below.
Figure 3: Minor tick marks visible on the vertical (value) axis
- Now, select the value axis of the chart, carefully right-click to access the contextual menu, as shown in Figure 4, below. Within this contextual menu, choose 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.
Figure 4: Format Axis option for the vertical (value) axis is selected
- Doing so opens the Format Axis Task Pane, as shown in Figure 5, below. Make sure that the Axis Options button is selected as shown highlighted in red within Figure 5. Note that Major unit option is set to Auto by default which is indicated by Auto option mentioned next to the Major value. Also note that Major value is set to 1.0 (highlighted in blue within Figure 5).
Figure 5: Format Axis Task Pane
- Now, let us change the major unit value. Click within the box provided with the Major option, and then type a new major value, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 6, below. We changed the value to 2. This may change the Minor value too because it is still set to Auto option, as shown in Figure 6. The Reset button that shows up next to the Major option can be clicked if you want to get back the automatic value ( Auto option).
Figure 6: Major unit value changed
- Now, you can see that the value axis' major unit values now show an interval of 2 points, as shown in Figure 7. 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
- Save your presentation.
Changing Minor Units of Value Axis
Follow these steps to change the minor units of the value axis:
- To change the minor unit, access the Format Axis Task Pane again (as explained in Steps 3 and 4 in the preceding section on this page).
- Make sure that the Axis Options button is selected as shown highlighted in red within Figure 8, below.
Figure 8: Format Axis Task Pane
- Notice that the default Minor unit value is set to 0.2 as shown highlighted in blue within Figure 8, above. Now, click within the box provided with the Minor option, and then type a new minor value, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 9, below. We changed the value to 0.5.
Figure 9: Minor unit value changed within Format Axis dialog box
- In Figure 10, you can see that the value axis' minor unit values now show a difference of 0.5 points. Compare Figures 3 and 10.
Figure 10: Minor unit value change reflecting on the chart
- Save your presentation.
10 08 05 - Chart Axes: Change Major and Minor Units of Value Axis (Glossary Page)
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