Missing Bounds Options for a Chart

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 19, 2020)

Ken has two charts on a worksheet, both with the horizontal axis displayed as dates. (The charts are very similar.) One of the charts allows the Bounds options for the horizontal axis to be modified and the other chart doesn't offer the Bounds options at all. Ken wonders what causes the difference between these two very similar charts and how he can set the start and end dates without the Bounds options.

First, let's assume that the two charts are based on different sets of data in the worksheet. In this case the problem may well be rooted in the data on which the problem chart is based. You see, the Bounds option will only be available if Excel determines that the data on which the axis is based contains all dates. If Excel detects that the data contains something different (such as text), then it doesn't present the Bounds option. So, check the data and make sure it actually contains dates, refresh (or regenerate) the chart, and the problem should disappear.

If the two charts are based on the exact same data, then the problem is just a bit trickier. Follow these steps:

  1. Right-click on the axis giving you the problem. (Ken would, in his case, right-click on the horizontal axis.) Excel displays a Context menu.
  2. Choose the Format Axis option from the Context menu. Excel displays the Format Axis pane at the right side of the program window.
  3. Make sure the Axis Options icon is clicked in the pane. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Format Axis pane.

Note the setting near the top of the pane, under the Axis Type category. If the axis type is set to Text, then the Bounds options are not visible. You'll want, instead, to choose either of the other two options.

  • If you choose the first axis type (Automatically Select Based on Data) and the data for the axis doesn't contain, purely, dates, then the Bounds options still will not be visible. If the data does contain just dates, however, then the Bounds options are immediately displayed.
  • If you choose the third axis type (Dates), then Excel tries to force dates from the data and the Bounds options will immediately be displayed.

The trick to displaying the Bounds options is to make sure you select the axis type that is appropriate for your data and to make sure that your data contains just dates.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (13813) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365.

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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