How to Change the Y-Axis in Excel

Updated Aug. 27, 2022, by Steve Larner, to include updated processes, details, and images.

How to Change the Y-Axis in Excel

Working knowledge of Excel is one of the must-have skills for every professional today. It’s a powerful tool that can transform how you see and understand data in any work environment. With new updates, its functionality and processing power are expanding, making it capable of handling massive amounts of data.

In this article, we’ll guide you through how to change the y-axis (vertical/value axis) in Excel and tell you more about its functionality.

Changing the Y-Axis Scale in Excel

Assuming that you want to change the vertical value axis (Y-axis) in your Excel chart/graph, you can customize its values to cover an extensive range or transform it into a logarithmic scale that fits your needs. Sometimes, you may want a different set of values than what Excel prepopulates. For instance, you may want to shrink the range down a little to focus on a particular range or reverse the order of the axis. You might even want to adjust the increments in the chart. No matter what values and text you want to show on the vertical axis (Y-axis), here’s how to do it.

Note: Red marks in the images below are actions, and green marks are for reference.

  1. In your chart, click the “Y-axis” that you want to change. It will show a border with blue dots on the corners to represent that it is highlighted/selected.
  2. Click on the “Format” tab, then choose “Format Selection.”
  3. The “Format Axis” dialog box appears on the right. Ensure you have the “chart icon” selected in the dialogue box. You are formatting the Y-Axis you previously selected.
  4. To change the beginning and ending or minimum and maximum values of your Y-Axis, go to the “Axis Options -> Bounds” section. Type a new number in the “Minimum” and “Maximum” boxes. If you need to revert the change, click on “Reset.”

Changing the Y-Axis Appearance in Excel

To change the appearance of the Excel Y-Axis, ensure you have selected it in your chart before following any of the steps below (unless instructed otherwise), or else, you’ll get the wrong options and settings.

Note: Red marks in the images below are actions, and green marks are for reference.

  1. To change the interval of units (10, 1000, etc.), go to the “Axis Options -> Units” section, then type a new number in the “Major” and “Minor” options. This step also adjusts the tick spacing based on your “Bounds” settings. To revert the changes, click on “Reset.” The “Minor” settings may not appear in the chart at first until you change the tick options later.
  2. To adjust the placement of tick marks, go to the “Tick Marks” section. Click the dropdowns next to “Major Type” and “Minor type,” then make your selection.
  3. To change the crosspoint of the Y-axis over the X-Axis, select the “X-Axis” instead. Go to “Axis Options -> Vertical axis crosses,” then choose “Automatic,” “At category number,” or “At maximum category.” If choosing “At category number,” type the value you want to become the crosspoint. Depending on your chart, the “Y-axis” may overlap the previous category.
  4. To change the displayed units, such as changing 20,000 to 20 where units represent x10000, go to “Axis Options -> Display units.” Click the dropdown and choose a unit such as “10000.”
  5. To add a units label in the Y-Axis, go to “Axis Options -> Display units.” Add a checkmark in the “Show display units label on chart” box. Uncheck the box to remove it.
  6. To switch the value axis to a logarithmic scale, go to the “Axis Options -> Display units” section, then add a checkmark in the “Logarithmic scale” box, then set a value (if desired). The “Base” value below displays units in multiples of 3, which becomes a scale with 20, 20×3 (60), 60×3 (180), etc.
  7. To reverse the order of the vertical values, go to the “Axis Options -> Display units” section, then add a checkmark in the “Values in reverse order” box. This action also reverses the horizontal axis to reflect accuracy in your chart or graph.
  8. To change the Y-axis label’s position, go to the “Labels” section. Click the dropdown next to “Label Position,” then make your selection. Designed for the X-Axis, it still works for the Y-Axis but treats it as rotated to the left, so high is the right side, and low is the left. Depending on your chart, it may not display correctly when changed.
  9. To change the number format of Y-axis labels, open the “dropdown” on the right within the “Number” section and below “Category,” then select your format. You can also choose advanced options like a comma separator, decimal places, and the negative number display.

If any of the above steps do not work, ensure that you selected the Y-Axis first unless otherwise specified. If you somehow get lost in the settings, re-click on the “Y-Axis” and try clicking “Format -> Format Selection” again to bring up the “Format Axis” menu on the right.

Changing the Display of Axes in Excel

Every new chart in Excel comes with two default axes: “value axis or vertical axis (Y)” and “category axis or horizontal axis (X).” If you’re making a 3D chart, in that case, there’s going to be a third one called the “depth axis (Z).” Editing or changing any of the axes results in how information is presented, what you can read from the chart, and where the emphasis lies.

Change Y Axis in Excel

Hiding and Unhiding Axes

When you’re working with different types of projects, it might come in handy to hide some of the axes to make your graphs more legible or to stress important numbers. Here’s how to do this:

  1. Bring the cursor to the chart where you want to change the axes’ appearance.
  2. Go to “Design,” then go to “Add Chart Element” and “Axes.”
  3. You’ll have two options: “Primary Horizontal” will hide/unhide the horizontal axis, and if you choose “Primary Vertical,” it will hide/unhide the vertical one.
  4. Click on the option you need.

Adjust Axis Marks

Whenever you create a chart, you’ll notice that all marks and labels are there by default. Adjusting the way they’re on display will remove any clutter or unnecessary information. With fewer marks and using bigger and smaller labels, your table will have a clearer structure, and your team will be able to use it without any issues.

Change the Alignment and Orientation of Labels

In a situation where you have multiple categories in your chart, there’s an option that helps you align labels on all levels. Additionally, you can also decide on the amount of space between the levels of labels. Here’s how to do this:

  1. Bring your cursor to the chart and click anywhere.
  2. Click on the “Chart Tools” and then “Design” and “Format” tabs.
  3. When you open the “Format” tab, click on the “Format Selection” and click on the axis you want to change.
  4. If you go to “Format,” “Format Axis,” and “Text Options,” you can choose for the text to be aligned vertically, horizontally, or to have a customized angle.

Change Appearance of Text and Numbers

Microsoft Excel allows you to format text and numbers in the category axis. Here’s how to format your text:

  1. Click on the axis that you want to customize.
  2. Click on “Home” toolbar and click on the formatting options you’d like to apply.

When you’re ready to format numbers, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the axis that you want to customize.
  2. Open the “Format” tab and select “Format Selection.”
  3. Go to the “Axis Options”, click on “Number” and select “Number” from the dropdown selection under Category. Here, you can choose among different numbering formats.

Change the Color of a Chart

For people working with charts all the time, it’s pivotal to mark them clearly, and sometimes the best way to do it is to use color. If your table is black and white and in need of some color to make it more impactful, here’s how to add it:

  1. Bring the cursor to the chart where you want to change the color.
  2. Click on “Design” tab. The “Chart Styles” option is located on the upper right corner.
  3. Once you click on it, you’ll see the “Style” and “Color” options for your chart.
  4. Scroll and choose the color and chart style you like.

Change the Color of Rows and Columns

Just a bit of color can make all the difference in a table. If you want to add color to alternate rows and columns, here’s how to do it:

  1. You need to select all the cells or columns.
  2. Press “Home” and “Format as Table.”
  3. Choose a style that supports different colors and shading.
  4. Go to “Design,” and from there you can check and uncheck all the rows and columns you want shaded.
Change the Y Axis in Excel


One of the most powerful Microsoft Office tools at any workplace around the world is Microsoft Excel. There’s no business that cannot benefit from using charts, lists, and various graphs to analyze, budget, organize or keep track of expenses. Excel proved itself pivotal for multiple industries that rely on the systematization that Excel provides.

Now that you know how to change and hide axes and format text and numbers, you’ll become acquainted with excel a bit more and use it fully. Are you currently working with Excel? Are you using it to make lists at home, or is it strictly for business?

Let us know in the comments section below.

One thought on “How to Change the Y-Axis in Excel”

George Gavaghan says:
An article entitled “How To Change The Y Axis In Excel”, where the first major heading reads “Changing the Y Axis Scale”, completely fails to mention how to do that, and only explains how to change some formatting options. Good job.
Steve Larner says:
The article is now updated to reflect details on changing the Y-axis in Excel. Thanks!!!

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