Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007 and 2010. 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 the Border of a Legend.

Formatting the Border of a Legend

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated April 14, 2020)
This tip applies to Excel 2007 and 2010


When you create a chart in Excel, the Wizard that you follow may create a chart legend, depending on the type of chart you are creating. Normally, the appearance of the legend will be acceptable for the type of chart you are creating. You have complete control, however, over how the legend appears.

One of the elements you can change is the type of border Excel places around the legend. To change the appearance of the legend's border, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click on the legend to display a Context menu, then select Format Legend. Excel displays the Format Legend dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  2. Figure 1. The Format Legend dialog box.

  3. Use the Border Color option to change the color of the border.
  4. Use the Border Styles option to select different border styles and weights for the legend.
  5. Use the Shadow option to specify the type of shadow you want applied to the legend.
  6. Click on OK.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (6153) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007 and 2010. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Formatting the Border of a Legend.

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. ...


Using Revision Tracking

Want to keep track of the changes other people make to your workbook or even your own changes? Excel makes gathering this ...

Discover More

Easy Value Hiding

Want a quick and easy way to hide the information in a cell? You can do it with a simple three-character custom format.

Discover More

Turning on Picture Placeholders

Displaying graphics in a document requires a great deal more computer processing than displaying simple text. A document ...

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)

Adjusting the Order of Items in a Chart Legend

When charting your data, a legend is always a nice finishing touch. You may want to change the order in which items ...

Discover More

Putting a Chart Legend On Its Own Page

Displaying information using charts in Excel is easy and there are a variety of chart styles to choose from. Integrated ...

Discover More

Moving a Chart's Legend

Need to move a chart legend to a different place on the chart? It's easy to do using the mouse, as described in this tip.

Discover More

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

View most recent newsletter.


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}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) 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 five minus 0?

2020-04-14 11:29:28

Dave Bonin

This is a late answer for "The Bruce", but I thought some of my special approaches might be useful to others.

I'm often at odds with Excel charting. While it's very powerful, it can also be very constraining in certain situations.

When that happens, I creatively apply other methods Excel provides.

- When Excel can't format axis titles quite the way I want them (perhaps I want to color, italicize or bold part of the title), I turn off the chart axis title and put axis title in the cells behind the chart. By adjusting row heights, column widths and merging cells, I can usually get exactly what I need.

- Ditto for chart titles.

- When I can't get the chart legend the way I want, I create my own. I've used MS Paint to build a chart legend image and then pasted it as a picture over the chart. I've also used text boxes. This can be especially handy when your chart includes a ghost series or two that you don't want in the chart legend. Sometimes, I've used snip to copy Excel's chart legend which I then edited with MS Paint and then pasted as a picture over the chart.

- I've also set up bar charts so that each bar aligns with it's own Excel column or row (column for a vertical bar chart, row for a horizontal bar chart) and then inserted the bar names into the appropriate cells.

- One special note -- when I put legends and titles in cells under a chart, I format the chart area to have no borders and no color. Instead, I color the cells under the chart and apply a suitable border.

By now, some readers may be shaking their heads at these techniques. Admittedly, I don't use them often. But they sure come in handy in those special cases where they're needed. And in my 25 years of using Excel, those special cases have come up pretty often.

2018-01-25 19:03:52

The Bruce

Do you know of a way to format a legend so that the series color dot is larger and placed above the legend text rather than to the left and relatively small as is the standard? (see Figure 1 below)

Figure 1. Mock up of what is desired

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

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.