Adjusting the Angle of Axis Labels

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated September 9, 2023)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021


1

Michael wonders if there is a way to format axis labels on his charts so that they are at an angle when compared to the actual axis line. He would like his axis labels to be at an approximate 45-degree angle.

How you go about adjusting the angle depends on the version of Excel you are using. If you are using Excel 2007 or Excel 2010, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click the axis labels whose angle you want to adjust. (You can only adjust the angle of all of the labels along an axis, not individual labels.) Excel displays a Context menu.
  2. Click the Format Axis option. Excel displays the Format Axis dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Format Axis dialog box.

  4. Using the Custom Angle control, adjust the angle at which you want the axis labels to appear. You can set a positive or negative rotation, as desired.
  5. Click Close to dismiss the dialog box.

If you are using Excel 2013 or a later version, the steps are just a bit different. (They are largely different because Microsoft did away with the Format Axis dialog box, choosing instead to use a task pane.)

  1. Right-click the axis labels whose angle you want to adjust. Excel displays a Context menu.
  2. Click the Format Axis option. Excel displays the Format Axis task pane at the right side of the screen.
  3. Click the Text Options link in the task pane. Excel changes the tools that appear just below the link.
  4. Click the Textbox tool. (It is the right-most tool in the task pane. It looks like a sheet of paper.)
  5. Expand the options under the Text Box link. (See Figure 2.)
  6. Figure 2. The Text Box options in the Format Axis task pane.

  7. Using the Custom Angle control, adjust the angle at which you want the axis labels to appear. You can set a positive or negative rotation, as desired.
  8. Close the task pane.

Your changes should be immediately reflected in the axis labels.

There is one potential gotcha here—if is possible that you may want to set the angle for the axis label, but you discover that the Custom Angle control is grayed out. If this is the case, check to make sure that the Text Direction drop-down list is set to Horizontal. Any other setting here, and you won't be able to specify an angle.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (5139) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021.

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. ...

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What is three less than 9?

2023-09-10 00:29:28

Sandy

Thanks for this tip.
I have regularly used angle adjustment in the past, but spent a fruitless hour looking for the current hiding spot yesterday. perfect timing!


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