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Rotate 3D Charts in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac

Learn how to rotate 3D charts in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac. Such rotation can help you achieve the best view and perspective.

When your 3D chart comprises columns of various heights, chances are that some of the columns hide other columns placed behind them, as shown in Figure 1, below. This is especially true with 3D charts that have a Z axis.


Figure 1: One of the Series 3 columns is completely hidden

One of the ways to make the columns placed behind visible is to make the taller columns transparent. The other way to solve this issue is to rotate the 3D chart so that you end up with a view in which the shorter columns become clearly visible.

Follow these steps to explore rotation of 3D charts in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac:

  1. Select the Chart Area. Then, right-click (or Ctrl+click) to bring up the contextual menu you see in Figure 2, below. From this contextual menu, choose the 3-D Rotation option.

  2. Figure 2: 3-D Rotation option selected
  3. Right-Click Contextual Menus

  4. For this tutorial, we selected the Chart Area to bring up the right-click contextual menu. You can similarly select any chart element and right-click (or Ctrl+click) to bring up a similar contextual menu. Note that if you select the edge of the entire chart, and right-click, then you may not see the 3-D Rotation option.
  5. Doing so brings up the Format Chart Area dialog box that you see in Figure 3, below. Make sure that the 3-D Rotation option is selected within the sidebar. Within the Rotation area, you can see X, Y and Perspective options, marked as A, B and C within Figure 3.

  6. Figure 3: 3-D Rotation options within Format Chart Area dialog box
  7. Why Can't You Rotate the Chart on the Z Axis?

  8. Did you find it strange that Z Axis rotation options were grayed out in Figure 3, above? That's because you can't rotate the chart on the Z (depth) axis. If PowerPoint allowed Z Axis rotation, your chart columns would not stand straight and would start leaning! That's the reason why charts can be rotated on the X (horizontal) and Y (vertical) axes but never on the Z (depth) axis.
  9. Let us explore chart rotation options as marked in Figure 3:
  10. A. X

  11. Specify the number of degrees to which you want to rotate the chart on X axis. We changed the X axis rotation value to 15 degrees, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 4, below. You can directly type in the required value (number of degrees) in the box, or increase or decrease the value using the button next to the box, as shown highlighted in blue within Figure 4.

  12. Figure 4: X axis rotation changed to 15 degrees
  13. This action rotates the chart around X axis to the specified number of degrees. Figure 5, below shows our sample chart with X axis rotation decreased from 20 to 15 degrees. Also note that the green column that was hidden earlier (refer to Figure 1, above) is visible now. You now see all the 4 green columns rather than the 3 visible in Figure 1.

  14. Figure 5: Decreasing the X axis rotation value has made the hidden column visible


  15. B. Y

  16. This option is used to adjust the Y axis rotation of the chart. Here, specify the number of degrees to which you want to rotate the chart on Y axis. As mentioned earlier, you can directly type in the required value (number of degrees) in the box, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 6, or increase or decrease the value using the button next to the box, as shown highlighted in blue within Figure 6. In Figure 6, below you can see that we have increased the Y axis rotation value from 15 degrees to 25 degrees.

  17. Figure 6: Y axis rotation changed to 25 degrees
  18. This action rotates the chart around Y axis to the specified number of degrees. Figure 7, below shows our sample chart with Y axis rotation increased form 15 degrees to 25 degrees. Also note that the column that was hidden earlier (refer to Figure 1, above) is partially visible now.

  19. Figure 7: Increasing the Y axis rotation value has made the hidden column partially visible
  20. Y Axis Rotations

  21. Rotating the chart on Y axis may result in your chart appearing as viewed from a horizontal base level, the sky, or even below the base level. Play with different rotation values to come up with a Y axis rotation value that works best for your chart.
  22. C. Perspective

  23. To change the depth of view of the chart, type the degree of perspective that you want within the Perspective box, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 8, below, or use the View buttons, shown highlighted in blue within Figure 8, below, to manipulate the rotation until you have achieved the results you want.
  24. By applying all three of the rotation options together, you can get better results. Look at Figure 8, below where we have changed all of the X, Y and Perspective values.

  25. Figure 8: X, Y, and Perspective values changed
  26. Once you have set the rotation values as required, click the OK button within the Format Chart Area dialog box. Look at Figure 9, below where you can see our sample 3D column chart has been rotated to show the hidden column.

  27. Figure 9: Changing X, Y, and Perspective values has made all columns visible
  28. Compare the charts in Figures 1, 5, 7, and 9. You can see all columns clearly in Figure 9.
  29. Save your presentation often.

See Also:

3D Charts: Rotate 3D Charts (Glossary Page)

Rotate 3D Charts in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows