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Tick Marks in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows

Learn about tick marks on chart axes in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows. Tick marks can be major or minor, and can show up on either side of the axes, both inside and outside.

When you look at charts on a PowerPoint slide from afar, you make out the value of a series by exploring where exactly it's placed vis-à-vis the axis. Of course, if your chart has data labels that identify values, then this is less of an issue. In the sample chart we have shown below in Figure 1, you'll notice that the first column that is representing Grapes in 2009 is a little taller than the value 4 in the adjacent axis, indicating a rough value of around 4.25, and we're still not sure.


Figure 1: By default Tick Marks are not displayed on the chart in PowerPoint 2013

So what is the solution to this problem? Tick Marks placed on the axes will help us get a better idea. Look at Figure 2 now, where we have enabled the Tick Marks. A few tick marks have been highlighted in red and blue within Figure 2. We chose two colors to highlight these tick marks because most chart types show two types of tick marks on axes: Major as shown highlighted in red and Minor as shown highlighted in blue.


Figure 2: Major and minor tick marks on chart axes

Major tick marks are indications on an axis that show up:

  • Between the categories on the horizontal axis, and,
  • Besides major unit values on the vertical axis

Both are shown highlighted in red with in Figure 2, above.

Note: Can't see the Horizontal gridlines in Figure 2, above? We have disabled them so that the tick marks in various positions are clearly visible in our screenshots.

Minor tick marks are those tick marks that appear between the major tick marks on an axis. Typically PowerPoint charts do not display minor tick marks, but we enabled them in the chart shown highlighted in blue within Figure 2, above. Minor tick marks help users measure the distance between the major tick marks.

If you look at this picture of a ruler (picture sourced from Office.com), you'll recollect that both major and minor tick marks have been available in all types of rulers we have used, even the rulers used in primary school.

In this tutorial, we will learn how to show/hide these tick marks and also where you display these Major and Minor tick marks in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows:

  1. Open your presentation and insert a chart on your slide. Start with defaults, as we did for the basic column chart shown in Figure 1 earlier on this page.
  2. Click and select the chart axis for which you want to change tick marks. Thereafter, right-click to bring up a contextual menu, as shown in Figure 3, below. In this contextual menu, select the Format Axis option (refer to Figure 3 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 selected axis.

  3. Figure 3: Format Axis option selected for the Value Axis
  4. Doing so opens the Format Axis Task Pane, as shown in Figure 4, below. In this Task Pane, select the Axis Options tab as shown highlighted in red within Figure 4. Click the Axis Options button, shown highlighted in blue within Figure 4. This action opens all axis editing options. Select the Tick Marks option, as shown highlighted in green within Figure 4.

  5. Figure 4: Tick Marks option selected within the Format Axis dialog box
  6. As you can see in Figure 4 above, there are similar drop-down lists for both Major type and Minor type. Both these drop-down lists include the same viewability options for major and minor tick marks, as shown in Figure 5, below.

  7. Figure 5: Tick Marks option selected within the Format Axis dialog box
  8. Let's explore these position options that you can see in Figure 5, above and illustrated in Figures 6, 7, 8, and 9:
  9. A. None

  10. As the name suggests, this option hides tick marks.


  11. B. Inside

  12. Places tick marks inside the plot area.
  13. C. Outside

  14. Places tick marks outside of the plot area.
  15. D. Cross

  16. Places tick marks on the axis overlapping the axis, crossing it.
  17. Figure 6, shows all types of the major tick marks on value axis when we selected the None, Inside, Outside, and Cross viewability options.

  18. Figure 6: Types of Major tick marks on value axis from left to right (None, Inside, Outside, and Cross)
  19. Figure 7, shows the types of the minor tick marks on value axis when we selected None, Inside, Outside, and Cross viewability options.

  20. Figure 7: Types of Minor tick marks on value axis from left to right (None, Inside, Outside, and Cross)
  21. Figure 8, shows the types of the major tick marks on category axis when we selected None, Inside, Outside, and Cross viewability options.

  22. Figure 8: Types of Major tick marks on category axis from top to bottom (None, Inside, Outside, and Cross)
  23. Figure 9, shows the types of the minor tick marks on category axis when we selected None, Inside, Outside, and Cross viewability options.

  24. Figure 9: Types of Minor tick marks on category axis from left to right (None, Inside, Outside, and Cross)
  25. Select any of the tick mark position. Save your presentation often.

Overlapping Tick Marks

The Minor tick marks and the Major tick marks overlap each other at the position of Major tick marks. This is so familiar to all of you because that's how the everyday common geometrical ruler works. So, if you hide Major tick marks but still show Minor tick marks, the Minor tick marks appear at the regular Major tick-mark positions too. But of course, these are not as pronounced.


See Also:

Chart Axes: Tick Marks (Glossary Page)

Tick Marks in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac
Tick Marks in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows