How to Add an Axis Title to an Excel Chart

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Axis title labels do not have to match your spreadsheet's column titles.
Image Credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft

When you insert a chart in Excel, the program might automatically display a chart title or a legend. In cases where Excel omits these labels or they don't adequately explain the chart, turn on axis titles in Excel 2013's Chart Elements menu or the Layout tab in earlier versions of Excel. Some types of charts, such as pie charts, cannot use axis titles and do not display the option. Switch to another chart style, such as a line, scatter or bar chart to add the titles.

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Excel 2013

Step 1

Open Chart Elements.
Image Credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft

Select a chart and click the Chart Elements "+" icon to its right.

Step 2

Turn on axis titles.
Image Credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft

Check "Axis Titles" to add titles to all axes on the chart, or open the drop-down menu next to "Axis Titles" and pick a single axis to label.

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Step 3

Link titles to cells.
Image Credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft

Click an axis title and begin typing to write a label by hand. To link an axis title to an existing cell, select the title, click in the formula bar, type an "=" and then click the cell. Press "Enter" to set the title. To change the title's text later, edit the text in the linked cell rather than on the chart.

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Excel 2010 or 2007

Step 1

Open the Axis Titles menu.
Image Credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft

Select a chart, switch to the "Layout" tab and press the "Axis Titles" button in the Labels section.

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Step 2

Pick a title and position.
Image Credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft

Choose the axis you want to title and pick an orientation for the label. Choose "Rotated Title" for a vertical axis to mimic the default style in Excel 2013.

Step 3

Write the title text.
Image Credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft

Type a title's text box to write a label. To tie a title to a cell's contents, select the title, type an "=" in the formula bar, click the cell and press "Enter." Edit a linked cell to update the title on the chart.

Tip

Double-click an axis title to edit the label's style, such as to add a shadow. For basic text options, such as text color and font, highlight the text in the title and choose an option from the pop-up next to the text.

A title linked to a cell copies the cell's text, but not its appearance. To change a title's style, edit the text box on the chart directly.

To accurately select axis titles or other chart elements if several items are clustered together, open the Layout tab in Excel 2013 -- or the Format tab in earlier versions -- and pick a chart element from the drop-down menu in the Current Selection section of the ribbon.

Warning

Select an unwanted axis title and press "Del" to remove it.

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