Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Changing Elements in Lots of Charts at One Time.

Changing Elements in Lots of Charts at One Time

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 12, 2014)

Chris has a workbook that contains a lot of small, identical charts. He wants to change some of the attributes of elements in each chart—such as color or font size—all at one time.

If you find yourself using a "non-default" chart often (which means changing the appearance of certain chart elements after the chart is created), then a great approach is to create a custom chart and save that format in Excel. You can then use the saved format to create all your new charts, thereby minimizing the amount of later formatting you need to do. How you save custom chart formats has been covered in other issues of ExcelTips.

Custom chart formats may be great for the future, but it doesn't help if you already have a whole bunch of charts in an existing workbook. In that case, the best solution is to use a macro which can step through all the charts in a workbook and make a desired change. You just need to decide up front which items you wish to change, and then program the macro to specifically change those items.

For example, the following macro changes the font color and size of the Y-axis labels. It loops through all the charts in the workbook, both sheets and embedded charts.

Sub ChangeAllCharts1()
    Dim cht As Chart
    Dim sht
    Dim ChtObj As ChartObject

    For Each cht In ActiveWorkbook.Charts
        With cht.Axes(xlValue).TickLabels.Font
            .Size = 20
            .Color = vbRed
        End With
    Next

    For Each sht In ActiveWorkbook.Sheets
        For Each ChtObj In sht.ChartObjects
            With ChtObj.Chart.Axes(xlValue).TickLabels.Font
                .Size = 20
                .Color = vbRed
            End With
        Next
    Next
End Sub

As written here, the macro changes the font size to 20 and the color to red. If you want the macro to change other elements, all you need to do is change the With statements to reflect the elements you want changed, or you could use a For...Next loop to step through all the chart elements. The following macro exhibits this technique, changing the background color of the charts in a workbook.

Sub ChangeAllCharts2()
    On Error Resume Next
    NewChartAreaColor = 34

    For J = 1 To ActiveWorkbook.Charts.Count
        ActiveWorkbook.Charts(J).Select

        'The pairs of line code indicate desired changes
        ActiveChart.ChartArea.Select
        Selection.Interior.ColorIndex = NewChartAreaColor
    Next J

    For J = 1 To ActiveWorkbook.Sheets.Count
        For K = 1 To Sheets(J).ChartObjects.Count
            Sheets(J).Select
            Sheets(J).ChartObjects(K).Activate

            'The pairs of line code indicate desired changes
            ActiveChart.ChartArea.Select
            Selection.Interior.ColorIndex = NewChartAreaColor
        Next K
    Next J
End Sub

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3125) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Changing Elements in Lots of Charts at One Time.

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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