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Switch Series and Categories for Charts in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows

Learn how to switch data for your Series and Categories in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows.


Product/Version: PowerPoint 2013 for Windows

OS: Windows 7 and higher

Any typical Column chart contains two sets of data -- one set shows as the Series within your charts, and the other set ends up representing the Categories. By default, the Series show up as the Legend (and columns) within the chart. Categories on the other hand constitute the groups of these individual columns.

In our sample chart in PowerPoint 2013 that you can see in Figure 1, below, the individual fruits (Grapes, Apples, and Bananas) are the Series whereas the years (Year 2011, Year 2012, Year 2013, and Year 2014) constitute the Categories.

Chart with three Series and four Categories selected
Figure 1: Chart with three Series and four Categories selected

You can quickly swap the visual representation of Series and Categories in the chart. For example, our chart currently includes 3 Series and 4 Categories. We can change it to show 4 Series and 3 categories, as shown in Figure 3, later on this page.

Important: All the data that works behind the scenes for any chart in PowerPoint 2013 is essentially stored in an Excel sheet. If you want to explore this data -- bring up the Excel sheet that contains the data, this is explained in our Edit Chart Data in PowerPoint 2013 tutorial. Within this Excel sheet, your data will show up in rows and columns -- one of these ends up as Categories for your PowerPoint chart and the other reflects as the Series. There is no fixed rule about whether a row or column has to be either resulting in a Category or a Series -- this relation can be easily switched all the time. Even though this relation is switched, it won't effect the position of actual data within the Excel sheet.

Follow these steps to swap Series and Categories:

  1. Select the chart that you want to swap Series and Categories for. If you don't have an existing chart, insert a new chart in your slide. For this tutorial we have selected a Column chart, as shown in Figure 1, above.
  2. With the chart still selected, access the Chart Tools Design tab of the Ribbon and make sure the Switch Row/Column button is active, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 2.

    Switch Row/Column button
    Figure 2: Switch Row/Column button

    Note: Is the Switch Row/Column button greyed out? This indicates that the Excel sheet containing the chart data is not open. To open the Excel sheet containing the chart data, just click the Edit Data button (highlighted in blue within Figure 2, above). This opens the Excel sheet containing the chart data. Now, come back to PowerPoint, and you will see that the Switch Row/Column button is no longer grayed out.
  3. To switch the rows and columns of your chart, click the Switch Row/Column button. This will modify your chart by switching the Categories and Series, as shown in Figure 3 (compare Figures 1 and 3).

    Chart rows and columns interchanged
    Figure 3: Chart rows and columns interchanged

    Note: If your chart's Category names contain just numbers and no alphabets, for example if we remove the word 'Year' from our sample chart's category names, then clicking the Switch Row/Column button will not achieve the desired result -- that's because the charting engine treats those cells as numbers and uses them to populate series values and categories. So, if you want to switch rows and columns, make sure that your chart's Category names are formatted as Text -- learn more in our Format Cells As Text in Excel 2013 tutorial.
    If you want the chart to get back to its original status, click the Switch Row/Column button again that you saw in Figure 2 earlier on this page.
  4. Save your presentation often.

See Also: Switch Series and Categories for Charts in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac

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