How to Change the Vertical Axis on an Excel Bar Chart

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Microsoft Excel 2007 is spreadsheet software that helps you to sort and classify large amounts of data. It can also assist you in making professional looking graphs, including bar graphs. A bar graph is a graph that has bars to represent data. Excel's Chart Tools tab, located on the ribbon (the top toolbar), gives you hundreds of options for customizing bar graphs, including placement, color, fill and orientation. Once you have created a bar graph in Excel, you can change the vertical axis options on your bar chart using the Chart Tools.

  • Click on the vertical axis of the bar graph.

  • Click on the "Layout" tab under "Chart Tools."

  • Click on "Format Selection." The first tab in the pop-up window, "Axis Options," allows you to change general options like the interval between tick marks and placement of axis labels. For example, if you want the vertical axis labels to appear in front of the bars (as opposed to sitting in the middle), click on the "Between tick marks" radio button under "Position Axis."

  • Select the placement for the vertical axis from the "Axis Options" tab. For a vertical axis below the bar graph, choose "low" from the drop-down menu next to "Axis labels." For an axis above the bars, choose "High" from the drop-down menu.

  • Click on the "Fill" tab from within the "Format Selection" pop-up window to give your numbers a background or fill. Click on the "Gradient Fill" radio button for a gradient fill, or click on "Solid Fill" for a solid background to the numbers.

  • Change the alignment of the text from horizontal (reading across) to vertical (reading from top to bottom) by clicking on the "alignment" tab and choosing "Rotate all text 90 degrees" from the drop-down options box next to "Text direction." You can also choose custom angles and set margins from within this tab.

Tips & Warnings

  • To change the actual numbers on the vertical axis, click on the relevant cell in the worksheet (do not click on the graph) and type in the new number. Excel will update the graph for you.
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
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