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: Modifying Axis Scale Labels.

Modifying Axis Scale Labels

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated November 28, 2020)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365


It is very common for charts to use some sort of "shorthand" for values placed along an axis. For instance, if the values along an axis ranged from 0 to 80,000, you may want to have only the thousands portion of each value displayed on the axis. That way, instead of 20,000, 40,000, 60,000, and 80,000, you would see 20, 40, 60, and 80 along the axis. A note could then be made in a label that indicates the axis values are displayed in thousands.

You can very easily change the axis scale by simply modifying how the values on the axis are displayed. Follow these steps:

  1. Create your chart as you normally would.
  2. Double-click the axis you want to scale. You should see the Format Axis dialog box (Excel 2007 and Excel 2010) or the Format Axis pane (later versions of Excel). If double-clicking doesn't work, right-click the axis and choose Format Axis from the resulting Context menu. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Format Axis pane.

  4. If you are using Excel 2007 or Excel 2010, click Axis Options at the left of the dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  5. Figure 2. The Axis Options tab of the Format Axis dialog box.

  6. Using the Display Units drop-down list (all versions of Excel), choose Thousands.
  7. Click OK.

Excel changes the axis values so only the thousands portion is displayed and inserts a label saying Thousands. Double-click on the Thousands label to edit the label, as desired, then drag it to any desired position.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (9485) 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: Modifying Axis Scale 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. ...

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