Axis labels are like captions for categories and values on your chart axes. Figure 1, below shows the default position of axis labels for a column chart. Category names, which show as labels on the horizontal (category) axis have been highlighted in blue. Similarly, values show as labels on the vertical (values) axis, and these are highlighted in red.
Figure 1: Default axis labels in a column chart
So, where do these labels come from? Category axis labels reflect category names within your data (typically within an Excel sheet). Values on the other hand are determined by PowerPoint based upon the maximum value in your data, and the minimum value is always set to zero. Of course you can change the minimum and maximum values if you want.
Values are typically shown as numbers or percentage values. They can also have decimals.
Before you begin, you should have a chart inserted in your PowerPoint slide. We used a column chart for this example.
Follow these steps to learn how you can change your axis labels. Let's start with changing vertical (value) axis labels in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac:
Changing Value Axis Labels
- Select the value axis of the chart on your slide and right-click (or Ctrl + click) to access the contextual menu, as shown in Figure 2, below. From the contextual menu, choose the Format Axis option (refer to Figure 2 again).
Figure 2: Format Axis option selected for the value axis
- Doing so opens the Format Axis dialog box, as shown in Figure 3, below.
Figure 3: Format Axis dialog box
- In Figure 3 above, you can see all the vertical axis' Scale options are set to default values. We know so because the Auto check-box is selected for all these options. If you change the maximum or minimum values or change the major units, you will see the vertical axis labels reflecting the changes you made.
- Look at Figure 4, where we have set the Maximum value to 10 shown highlighted in red. The vertical axis label automatically reflects this change, showing the maximum value as 10 shown highlighted in blue in Figure 4. Compare this to the original chart shown in Figure 1, previously on this page.
Figure 4: Value axis label reflecting the changed Maximum value
- Now, look at Figure 5, below where we have changed the Display units to Hundreds as shown highlighted in red. Notice that the vertical axis label now shows the changed display units as shown highlighted in blue within Figure 5.
Figure 5: Value axis label reflecting the changed display units
- You can also change the value axis label to show as Currency. To do so, select the Number option in the sidebar as shown highlighted in green within Figure 6, below. Thereafter, change the Category to Currency as shown highlighted in red within Figure 6. You can choose the Currency symbol you need, and also the decimal spaces. You can see that the resultant value axis label shown highlighted in blue within Figure 6 is now set to Currency.
Figure 6: Value axis label changed to Currency
- You can similarly change value labels to show percentages, fractions, etc.
Changing Category Axis Labels
Now, let us learn how to change category axis labels.
- First select your chart. Then, click the Edit button within the Charts tab of the Ribbon, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 7, below.
Figure 7: Edit button within Data group
- Doing so opens an instance of Excel with your chart data, as shown in Figure 8, below. Change category names within the Excel sheet, and type new names for categories as required. Look at Figure 8, where we have changed our category names as shown highlighted in red.
Figure 8: Category names changed within the Excel sheet
- Now, exit Excel. Changes you made to category names in Excel will automatically be reflected in category axis labels on your chart within PowerPoint as shown highlighted in red within Figure 9, below. Compare this to the original chart shown in Figure 1, previously on this page.
Figure 8: Chart reflecting the changed category names
- Save your presentation.
Chart Axes: Changing Axis Labels (Glossary Page)