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: Changing the Axis Scale.

Changing the Axis Scale

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 11, 2019)

11

Excel includes an impressive graphing capability that can turn the dullest data into outstanding charts, complete with all sorts of whiz-bang do-dads to amaze your friends and confound your enemies. While Excel can automatically handle many of the mundane tasks associated with turning raw data into a chart, you may still want to change some elements of your chart.

For instance, you may want to change the scale Excel uses along an axis of your chart. (The scale automatically chosen by Excel may not represent the entire universe of possibilities you want conveyed in your chart.) You can change the scale used by Excel by following these steps in Excel 2007 or Excel 2010:

  1. Right-click on the axis whose scale 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.
  3. Make sure Axis Options is clicked at the left of the dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Axis Options of the Format Axis dialog box.

  5. Adjust the scale settings (top of the dialog box—Minimum, Maximum, etc.) as desired.
  6. Click on OK.

In Excel 2013 or a later version, the steps are different:

  1. Right-click on the axis whose scale 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 screen.
  3. Make sure Axis Options area is expanded. (Click on Axis Options and then the Axis Options icon.) (See Figure 2.)
  4. Figure 2. The Axis Options in the Format Axis task pane.

  5. Adjust the Bounds and Units settings, as desired. These, along with a couple of other settings in the task pane, determine the scale used to display your chart.
  6. Close the Format Axis task pane.

Note that in order to adjust the Bounds and Units settings, Excel needs to recognize the data in an axis as a range of values (e.g. dates). There will not be the option to change Bounds and Units if the data is recognized as discreet values by Excel (e.g. item names).

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (9267) 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: Changing the Axis Scale.

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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Comments

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What is 4 - 0?

2018-02-09 17:15:51

MalR

I agree. I can get the Axis Options but like others say, I do not have some of the things that Allen shows such as Bounds. I am using MS Office 2010.


2018-02-08 03:06:45

Charles Thompson

Instructions with a right click are not applicable to us iMac users. Can you include the instructions for Mac users?


2017-04-19 23:08:01

Vaughn Golding

I have found that the bounds does not always appear. The same with the log scale... How to you get the context menu to display the correct options?


2016-09-29 05:09:11

Monique

Call me crazy but I don't have these Bounds settings in my Excel 2013


2016-09-18 16:54:31

Mike

Does not work for Excel 2013.


2016-04-26 20:13:51

Bethany

Hey, this definately works and helped me further understand / remember how to change the scale....I still am somewhat confused about why it's called bounds and units?....but your step by step insrustions make it easy to accomplish...! Thanks so much, hopefully you have more useful step by step instructions for other issues I come across...thanks again! :)...

--Bethany


P.s., Sam, I came across this same issue...what I finally found to work(after a good wasted 10 minutes, lol) was to input the value without commas etc....I needed 600,000-1,600,000....I had to input 600000 and 1600000 and it worked...good luck hope this helps you as well!


2016-02-04 06:01:28

Sam

This doesn't work. In 2013 there is no clear way to change the bounds from auto to manual, so it just keeps reverting it back to the numbers it chose in the first place


2016-01-15 22:39:16

Matthew

Is it possible to set the graphing Min & Max Bounds and Major Units to user-defined values, based upon the graphing data? For example, if I wish to scatter plot the data points for a bell-curve distribution, how can I get the values to automatically use the Min (which I defined as Mean - 3 SD) and Max (mean + 3 SD) and Major Unit (SD). I tried Naming the cells which contain the calculated values and then entering the Name into the custom bounds box, but Excel 2013 doesn't accept that.


2015-09-21 17:58:58

Patricia

Why don't I get the option to change the bounds on my date axis?
When I created the graph, this worked. I adjust it every month. Then, all of the sudden, this option is gone. This has happened to me on several occasions with different charts over the past year or so. I try and try to get the bounds option back and then end up giving up and starting over with a whole new chart. It is very frustrating.


2015-09-18 14:45:11

Rob

It is possible Excel is reading your dates as text instead of as a number. Try using the Datevalue function to convert the format, and then build the chart using these values.
Hopefully this does the trick for you.


2015-09-07 19:21:31

Oscar

WHY DOES THIS NOT WORK??? I HAVE NO BOUNDS OR UNITS SECTIONS UNDER AXIS OPTIONS


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