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

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 8, 2016)

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

Deleting Duplicate Columns

Have a worksheet in which there may be entire columns that are duplicates of each other? If you want to delete those ...

Discover More

Finding the Number of Significant Digits

When looking at a number, you may wonder how many significant digits it contains. The answer is not always an easy one, ...

Discover More

Changing What Is Pasted in a Dialog Box

When you record a macro, Word very literally records what you do. This includes filling in various settings in dialog ...

Discover More

Save Time and Supercharge Excel! Automate virtually any routine task and save yourself hours, days, maybe even weeks. Then, learn how to make Excel do things you thought were simply impossible! Mastering advanced Excel macros has never been easier. Check out Excel 2010 VBA and Macros today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Controlling Display of the Status Bar

Turning off the status bar through the options menu.

Discover More

Getting Rid of Fixed Objects

Some dialog boxes in Excel refer to "fixed objects" in worksheets. What are they and how do you get rid of them?

Discover More

Changing an AutoShape

Need to change a shape you previously added to your worksheet? It's easy to do using the graphics tools provided by ...

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}] 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 3 + 4?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


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.