Changing the Axis and Gridline Default Color

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated August 20, 2022)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Peter is getting older (aren't we all?) and his vision is getting older along with him. When he creates a chart, Excel uses a light gray tone for axis and grid lines. Peter finds these hard to see with his old eyes, so he wonders if there is a way to change the default for axis and grid lines to black.

The easiest way to handle this is to create your own chart template. Here's the general steps for accomplishing the task:

  1. Set up your chart the way you want it to appear, including all the formatting.
  2. Right-click on the chart. Excel displays a Context menu.
  3. Choose the Save As Template option. Excel displays the Save Chart Template dialog box. (This looks very similar to a typical Save dialog box.) (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. Saving a chart template.

  5. Using the File Name field, specify the name you want used for your chart template. (Do not change any other settings; the template must be saved in the folder suggested by Excel, and you want it to have the file type of "Chart Template Files(*.crtx).")
  6. Click Save. The Save dialog box is dismissed and your template is saved.

Excel saves the chart type with the template, so if you use different types of charts in your work, you'll want to create a template for each type.

In order to later use the template, all you need to do is to right-click on any chart and, from the resulting Context menu, choose Change Chart Type. Excel then displays the Change Chart Type dialog box. Click Templates at the left side of the dialog box and you can see the template you previously saved, along with any other templates you defined. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. Using a chart template.

When you click on one of the templates and click OK, Excel formats the chart to match the settings in the template.

Interestingly enough, if you use one of your templates disproportionately more often than others, you can set the template as the default chart type. All you need to do, when the Change Chart Type dialog box is displayed, is to right-click on the template you want used as the default and, from the Context menu, choose Set As Default Chart. Now whenever you create a new chart, Excel should rely on the template as the starting point for your chart.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (10047) 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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