Excel Chart Layout Panels

In the previous part of this lesson on charts, you saw how to format a chart with various dialogue boxes.


You can also format your charts using the menu items on the Excel Ribbon bar, at the top of the screen. With your chart selected, click the Layout menu (Not Excel 2013 to 2016. See below for your Layout options). You should see this:

Left side of the Layout panels

Right side of the Layout panels

The Layout menu is a bit big for this page, so we've split it in two. But the chart Layout panel is split into a number of different sections (six in our version), and allows you to change the information in the chart.

For Excel 2013 to 2016 users, your Layout options are on the Design tab still, on the far left, just under the File menu:

Chart Layout options in Excel 2013

Click Add Chart Element to see the following drop down list:

Chart Layout list in Excel 2013

For all versions of Excel, The first thing you may want to do is to give your chart a name.

To change the name of your chart in Excel versions 2007 and 2010, locate the Properties panel on the Layout menu:

The Properties panel

Highlight the default name in the textbox and type a new one:

Type a new Name for your chart

If you now click away from your chart, and then click back on it, you'll notice the name of the chart change:

The name of the chart has changed

For Excel 2013 to 2016 users, locate the Name box just below Chart Layouts:

Change the name of a chart in Excel 2013

Highlight the default Chart 1. Type a new name (BBC 1) and press enter:

Excel 2013 changed chart name


The Labels Panel in Excel 2007/2010

The Labels panel on the Layout menu lets you format the titles and legends on your chart. Here it is:

The Label Panel

Or this for Excel 2013 to 2016 users:

Chart Layout list in Excel 2013

The first one is Chart Title. Click the arrow to see the options:

The Chart Title Menu

Chart Title options, Excel 2013

Click each item on the menu in turn to see what they do. Then click More Title Options. The following dialogue box will appear (Excel 2010 has more options. Excel 2013to 2016 users, see below for your options.):

Format Chart Title in Excel 2007

As you can see, there are options to change the Fill, Line, Line Style, Shadow, 3-D format, and Alignment. Play around with the options on the dialogue box to see what they do. The only thing you're changing here is the Chart Tile. Click Close when you're done. If you don't like what you see, click the undo arrow at the top of Excel.


Formatting Chart Titles in Excel 2013 to 2016

Excel 2013 and 2016 users won't see a dialogue box. Instead, you'll see a panel appear on the right of the screen. This one:

Format Chart Title, Excel 2013

Click an arrow to see further options. Here are the options for Fill:

Chart Fill option, Excel 2013

You can also click the icons at the top. There are three of them: a paint bucket, an Hexagon, and a resize symbol.

Click the Hexagon and you'll see these options:

Chart Title icons, Excel 2013

Click the Rezise symbol and the options will change to these:

Resize a chart, Excel 2013

As well as the three symbols, you can click the Text Options, just to the right of Title Options at the top. You'll then see even more options, this time to change the text itself:

Chart title Text Options, Excel 2013

Play around with all and see how they work.


Change the Axis Title in Excel 2007/2010

The next item on the Labels panel is the Axis Title. Click the down arrow to see the options:

Axis Titles

At the moment, our chart has no Axis Title. It just has numbers running across the bottom. Someone looking at the chart won't know what the numbers represent. Here's what our Chart looks like at the moment:

Our Chart

To add an Axis title in Excel 2007 and 2010, click on Primary Horizontal Axis Title. From the sub menu, click Title Below Axis.

Title Below Axis

In Excel 2013 and 2016, select Primary Horizontal on the Axis Titles menu of Add Chart Elements:

Axis titles, Excel 2013

When you click Title Below Axis or Primary Horizontal, a new title will be added to the chart:

A New Axis Title added

Highlight the default text, and type your own:

Highlight the text

Click away from the chart to see what it looks like:

Our New Axis Title

We now have some explanation for what the numbers represent. You can add a Vertical Axis, as well. Click on Primary Vertical Axis Title and see how it works.


Chart Legend

The Chart's Legend is this one:

The Chart Legend

At the moment, our Legend is on the right of the chart. But you can move this. Click the Legend item on the Layout panel to see the various options:

The various Legend options

Axis legend, Excel 2013

Click an option on the menu and watch what happens to your Legend. You should see it move around your chart.


Adding Data Labels to an Excel Chart

A Data Label is information overlaid on the chart bars. In our chart below, we have numbers overlaid on the orange bars:

Data Labels are on the bars in this chart

You can format these Data Labels. Click the Data Labels item on the Labels panel to see the following options:

The Data Labels options

Data labels, Excel 2013

The one wat we have at the moment is Inside Edge. Click on Outside End and your Data Labels will look like this:

Data Labels - Outside End

You can also see the options if you click More Data Label Options from the menu. You'll then see this dialogue box (In Excel 2013 and 2016, again, you won't see a dialogue box. Instead, you'll see the Format panel appear on the right of your screen. The same options as below will be available, however.):

Format Data Labels

Again, play around with the options to see what they do. The first two, Label Options and Number, are the ones you'll probably use most often.


In the next part, we'll take a look at the Format Chart panels in Excel . You can create some impresive looking charts very quickly on this panel!