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: Two-Level Axis Labels.

Two-Level Axis Labels

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated April 16, 2021)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


3

Excel is great at creating charts. With some types of data, you may have a need for two-level axis labels for your chart. For instance, you may want something similar to the following along the X-axis for your chart:

  Pro | Team | Reg | Pro | Team | Reg ...
    Eastern US     |   Western US ...

Setting up such an arrangement in an Excel worksheet is easy, but getting the same result in a chart may not be as obvious.

Go ahead and set up your worksheet to reflect the column titles the way you want them. These column titles will end up as your X-axis labels. You could set them up as follows:

  |   A   |   B   |   C   |   D   |   E   |   F   |   G   |
1 |       |       Eastern US      |       Western US      |
2 |       |  Pro  |  Team |  Reg  |  Pro  |  Team |  Reg  |
  1. In the first row, put your first major group title into cell B1.
  2. Put your second major group title into cell E1.
  3. In cells B2:G2 place your column labels.
  4. Select cells B1:D1 and click the Merge and Center tool. (In Excel 2007 the Merge and Center tool is in the Alignment group of the Home tab on the ribbon.) The first major group title should now be centered over the first group of column labels.
  5. Select cells E1:G1 and click the Merge and Center tool. The second major group title should now be centered over the second group of column labels.
  6. Make the cells at B1:G2 bold. (This sets them off from your data.)
  7. Place your row labels into column A, beginning at cell A3.
  8. Place your data into the table, beginning at cell B3.

With your table completed, you are ready to create the chart. Just select your data table, including all the headings in the first two rows, then create your chart. Excel automatically recognizes that you have two rows being used for the X-axis labels, and formats the chart correctly. (See Figure 1.) Since the X-axis labels appear beneath the chart data, the order of the label rows is reversed—exactly as mentioned at the first of this tip.

Figure 1. Two-level axis labels are created automatically by Excel.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3203) 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: Two-Level Axis Labels.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Having Numbered Lists in Subdocuments Restart their Numbering

If you have a bunch of subdocuments, and each of those subdocuments contains numbered lists, you may find that you have ...

Discover More

Quickly Changing Columns

You can use the Columns tool, available on the Page Layout or Layout tab (depending on which version of Word you are ...

Discover More

Highlighting Greater Than Average Dry Durations

If you need to find whether the duration between two dates is greater than the average of all durations, you'll find the ...

Discover More

Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Understanding Fill Effects

Want to fill a drawing object with different types of effects? Excel provides several effects that can make your drawing ...

Discover More

Inserting Multiple Drawing Objects

When you need to add more than one of a particular drawing object to a worksheet, you can use the techniques described in ...

Discover More

Resize Graphics Outside of Excel

Graphics are a common addition to almost any workbook. If you need to change the size of your graphics (which Excel lets ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is two more than 2?

2022-09-01 09:51:52

VASILIKI SKIADA

Hello, is there a way to create a two level axis for a box plot (the chart available from the recommended charts).
This tip does not seem to apply to the box plot chart. Thank you.


2021-03-17 16:09:03

Bailey

How do you remove the vertical lines separating the groups under the x-axis?


2019-09-10 17:54:08

Pat Chmiel

I struggled with this for the better part of a day. Thank you!


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.