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Switch Series and Categories for Charts in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac

Learn how to switch data for your Series and Categories in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac.


Product/Version: PowerPoint 2011 for Mac

OS: Mac OS X

Any typical chart inserted in PowerPoint contains two types of data -- one of these show as the Series within your charts, and the second data type ends up representing Categories. By default, the Series are shown as the individual chart elements -- for example as individual columns in a column chart. Also, the Series show up as the Legend for the chart. Categories on the other hand constitute the groups of these individual columns.

In our sample chart that you can see in Figure 1, below -- the individual fruits (Grapes, Apples, and Bananas) are the Series whereas the years (2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012) constitute the Categories. If needed, you can quickly swap the visual representation of Series and Categories in the chart.

Chart selected
Figure 1: Chart selected

Important: All the data that works behind the scenes for any chart in PowerPoint 2011 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 2011 for Mac 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 -- in fact this tutorial is all about this very "switching".

Follow these steps to swap Series and Categories:

  1. To start with, you need a chart selected on your slide -- for this tutorial we have selected a Column chart, as shown in Figure 1.
  2. With the chart still selected, access the Charts tab of the Ribbon and locate the Switch Plot button, that is shown highlighted in red within Figure 2.

    Switch Plot button
    Figure 2: Switch Plot button

    Note: Is the Switch Plot 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 button (highlighted in blue within Figure 2, above). This opens the Excel sheet containing the chart data. Now, come back to PowerPoint again, and you will see that the Switch Plot button is no longer grayed out.
  3. As you can see in Figure 2, above -- the Switch Plot button contains two portions -- the left half is used to plot the series by row, and the right half is used to plot the series by column. Currently, the chart series have been plotted by column, which is indicated by the selected status of right half of this button (refer to Figure 2, above). To switch the rows and columns of your chart, click the left half of the Switch Plot button which shows the tool tip 'Plot series by row' as shown in Figure 3.

    Plot series by row
    Figure 3: Plot series by row
  4. This will modify your chart by switching the Categories and Series, as shown in Figure 4 (compare Figures 1 and 4).

    Chart Categories and Series interchanged
    Figure 4: Chart Categories and Series interchanged

    Note: If your chart's Category names contain just digits and no alphabets, for example if we removed the word 'Year' from our sample chart's category names, then clicking the Switch Row/Column button will not achieve the desired result. So, if you want to switch rows and columns, make sure that your chart's Category names are not entirely degits.
    If you want the chart to get back to its original status, click the right half (Plot series by column) of the Switch Plot button that you saw in Figure 3 earlier on this page.
  5. Save your presentation often.

See Also: Switch Series and Categories for Charts in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows

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