Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 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: Formatting Axis Patterns.

Formatting Axis Patterns

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated June 2, 2023)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365


Most people who create charts with Excel don't know that you can change just about everything that controls how the chart appears. One of the things you can easily change is the pattern used to denote a chart's axis. By default, Excel normally uses a solid line for an axis. If you want to change the pattern used by Excel, follow these steps if you are using Excel 2007 or Excel 2010:

  1. Right-click on the axis whose pattern you want to change. Excel displays a Context menu for the axis.
  2. Choose Format Axis from the Context menu. (If there is no Format Axis choice, then you did not right-click on an axis in step 1.) Excel displays the Format Axis dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Format Axis dialog box.

  4. Use the Fill selection to specify how the axis should be filled (including its pattern, if selected).
  5. Use the Line Style selection to specify how the axis line should look.
  6. Use the Line Color selection to select a color for the axis.
  7. Click on OK.

If you are using Excel 2013 or a later version, then the steps are slightly different:

  1. Right-click on the axis whose pattern you want to change. Excel displays a Context menu for the axis.
  2. Choose Format Axis from the Context menu. (If there is no Format Axis choice, then you did not right-click on an axis in step 1.) Excel displays the Format Axis task pane at the right side of the program window.
  3. Click the Fill & Line icon—it looks like a paint bucket. (See Figure 2.)
  4. Figure 2. The Format Axis task pane.

  5. Expand the Fill options to specify how the axis should be filled (including its pattern, if selected).
  6. Expand the Line options to specify how the axis line should look.
  7. Close the task pane when done.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (6134) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Formatting Axis Patterns.

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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