Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Two-Level Axis Labels.

Two-Level Axis Labels

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 14, 2020)

5

Excel is great at creating charts. With some types of data, you may have a need for two-level axis labels for your chart. For instance, you may want something similar to the following along the X-axis for your chart:

  Pro | Team | Reg | Pro | Team | Reg ...
    Eastern US     |   Western US ...

Setting up such an arrangement in an Excel worksheet is easy, but getting the same result in a chart may not be as obvious.

Go ahead and set up your worksheet to reflect the column titles the way you want them. These column titles will end up as your X-axis labels. You could set them up as follows:

  |   A   |   B   |   C   |   D   |   E   |   F   |   G   |
1 |       |       Eastern US      |       Western US      |
2 |       |  Pro  |  Team |  Reg  |  Pro  |  Team |  Reg  |
  1. In the first row, put your first major group title into cell B1.
  2. Put your second major group title into cell E1.
  3. In cells B2:G2 place your column labels.
  4. Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
  5. Select cells B1:D1 and, in the Alignment group, click the Merge and Center tool. The first major group title should now be centered over the first group of column labels.
  6. Select cells E1:G1 and click the Merge and Center tool. The second major group title should now be centered over the second group of column labels.
  7. Make the cells at B1:G2 bold. (This sets them off from your data.)
  8. Place your row labels into column A, beginning at cell A3.
  9. Place your data into the table, beginning at cell B3.

With your table completed, you are ready to create the chart. Just select your data table, including all the headings in the first two rows, then create your table. Excel automatically recognizes that you have two rows being used for the X-axis labels, and formats the chart correctly. Since the X-axis labels appear beneath the chart data, the order of the label rows is reversed—exactly as mentioned at the first of this tip. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. Two-level axis labels are created automatically by Excel.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (1188) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Two-Level Axis Labels.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Selecting a Line of Text

Many word processing programs include commands that allow you to select a line of text. Word doesn't, but you can use the ...

Discover More

Calculating the First Business Day of the Month

Want to know which day of the month is the first business day? There are a few ways you can check to make sure the date ...

Discover More

Non-Printing Hyperlinks

Karen is having problems getting hyperlinks to print in a document on her home computer. There are only a limited number ...

Discover More

Solve Real Business Problems Master business modeling and analysis techniques with Excel and transform data into bottom-line results. This hands-on, scenario-focused guide shows you how to use the latest Excel tools to integrate data from multiple tables. Check out Microsoft Excel 2013 Data Analysis and Business Modeling today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Setting Grid Line Intervals for a Radar Chart

Excel provides a wide varity of chart types you can use with your data. Unfortunately, this variety can often make it ...

Discover More

Changing Chart Types

Want to change an existing bar chart to a different type of chart, such as a line chart or a column chart? It's easy to ...

Discover More

Easily Changing Chart Data Ranges

Want a handy way to make the data ranges for your chart more dynamic? Here are some great ideas you can put to work right ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 7 + 4?

2021-03-17 16:08:56

Bailey Gilmore

How do you remove the vertical lines under the x-axis?


2020-01-08 12:10:03

Michael Merkel

Do you know of a way to get a Major Vertical Grid Line between Eastern US and Western US? I have a table that has years and months and I would like the major grid lines between the years but not the months. Excel 365


2017-04-11 12:13:33

Ashley

Can you do multiple level categories on both axes at once?


2016-06-01 14:11:01

gerald

I am using this to put the time and date on a graph, with the time on one line and the date on another.
It works fine except that I can't set the interval between the displayed times. Thus instead of nice-looking 6 hour intervals, excel has been choosing 6 hours and 50 minutes.
Is there a way to fix this?


2016-04-27 09:34:19

Drew Peregrim

Do you have any tips for three layers? I essentially am using excel to create a Gant chart using Excel's horizontal bar chart. Everything worked fine until I got to the third layer of labels. Excel rotated the 2nd layer text and it became unreadable. Have not found a way to get it to rotate that layer back to horizontal. All controls seem to work only on the last layer.


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.