How to Edit the Legend in Microsoft Excel

By Aaron Parson

Excel chart legends have more customization options than appear at first glance. Here's how to change them to your liking.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer with Microsoft Excel

When you add a legend to a chart in Excel 2013, Excel builds the legend using data from the spreadsheet. Labels in the legend match those in your header row, and the colors in the legend match the colors in the chart. The legend itself sits below or to the side of the chart, out of the way of the data. To change the legend's position, appearance or contents, format it, adjust the colors and change the series names.

Format the Position, Background and Text

Step 1

Double-click the border of the legend to open the Format Legend panel. In the initial section, set the legend's position relative to the chart. The Show the Legend... check box prevents the legend from overlapping the chart.

Tip

Drag the legend by its border to position it manually.

Step 2

Legend fill and line options.

Open the Fill & Line section (the paint bucket icon) for options concerning the legend's background color and border.

Tip

Click the pentagon icon to add special effects, such as a shadow, to the background.

Step 3

Legend text options.

Use the font settings on the Home tab to change the font or text size, just as you would edit regular text. For advanced style options, such as text fills or outlines, click Text Options on the Format Legend sidebar.

Edit Legend Colors

Change a line color.

Click the legend, then double-click a particular entry on the legend to open the Legend Entry Options sidebar. Set the border color in the Fill & Border section to change the color for both the legend entry and the corresponding line, pie slice or bar in the chart.

Tip

Click Change Colors on the Design tab to select a color scheme for the entire chart.

Edit Legend Text

Legends usually draw their text from the spreadsheet. Change the header on a column and the legend updates automatically. To edit the legend's text without changing your spreadsheet, change the series names instead:

Step 1

Open Select Data.

Click your chart, and then click Select Data on the Design tab

Step 2

Select Data Source window.

Pick the entry you want to change in the Legend Entries (Series) section and click Edit.

Step 3

Edit Series window

Type a new name in the Series Name box, and click OK on both windows.

Tip

Type = and click a cell to use the cell's contents as the name.