How to Add Axis Titles in Charts in Excel?

Excel charts can be confusing for people, and it’s always a good idea to mark everything clearly in the chart.

One chart element that is often missing in charts (which should ideally always be added) is the Axis Title.

Most commonly used Excel charts have two axes (horizontal and vertical), and adding an axis title to each axis would tell the user what the axis represents.

For example, below is a chart where it’s not clear what the axis represents.

chart without axis titles

While you can guess that it is about the profit for each region (as it’s there in the chart title), we don’t know the denomination of the profit values (whether it’s in thousands or millions, or billions).

Adding an axis title (both vertical and horizontal) would make this chart a lot better to read.

In this article, I will show you three easy ways to insert axis titles in charts in Excel. I will also show you how to format these and link them to a cell (so it becomes dynamic).

Note: For this tutorial, I will show you how to add Axis Titles to a line chart. You can follow the same steps for any other Excel chart type as well.

Add Axis Titles Using the Chart Elements Option

The fastest way to add Axis titles to your chart is by using the Chart Elements option that appears whenever you select the chart in your worksheet.

Below is a line chart where I do not have the Axis titles, and I want to add a horizontal and vertical Axis Title to this chart.

chart without axis titles

Here are the steps to do this:

  1. Select the chart. As soon as you select the chart, you will see three icons appear at the top right part of the chart
  2. Click on the Chart Elements icon (the plus sign icon)
click on the chart element icon
  1. Check the Axis Titles option. As soon as you do this, you will notice that axis titles have been added to the primary and the horizontal axis, with default text in the box.
Axis titles have been added to the chart
  1. Select the horizontal axis title box.
  2. Double-click on the box or right-click and then click the Edit Text option. Doing this would bring the cursor within the Axis title box, where you can change the text.
edit text option to change the axis title text
  1. Enter the text manually that you want as the Axis title for the horizontal axis.
  2. Repeat steps 5 and 6 for the vertical axis to change the text in the Axis title box.
Axis titles have been added

You can also choose only to add a horizontal axis title or only the vertical axis title if you want.

When you click on the Chart Element icon (that appears when you select the chart), you will notice a small arrow icon appears when you hover the cursor over the Axis title option.

More Axis title options icon

When you click on this arrow icon, it is going to show you the option to select the horizontal and/or vertical axis title.

primary horizontal and primary vertical option

Apart from the Primary Horizontal and Primary Vertical, there are also ‘More Options’ in the sub-menu that opens. When you click on More Options, it will open the Format Axis Title pane on the right.

We will discuss the options in the Format Axis Title pane and how to use them later in this article (when we talk about how to format and customize the Axis Titles)

This option may not be available if you’re using an older version of Excel (such as 2007 or 2010). In that case, you can use the method covered next

Add Axis Titles Using the Chart Design Tab (Add Chart Element Option)

Another fast way to add Axis titles to your charts in Excel is by using the option in the ribbon. This method would work with every version of Excel.

Below I have a chart where I do not have the Axis titles, and I want to add them.

chart without axis titles

Here are the steps to do this:

  1. Select the chart in which you want to add the Axis titles
  2. Click on the Chart Design tab in the ribbon. The Chart Design tab is a contextual tab that would only appear in the ribbon when you select a chart in the worksheet.
chart design tab in the ribbon
  1. In the Chart Layout group, click on the Add Chart Element option.
click on the add chart element option
  1. Hover the cursor over the Axis titles option. Doing this will further open a sub-menu of options.
Hover the cursor over the Axis titles option
  1. Click on the Primary Horizontal option to add an axis title for the horizontal axis.
click on the primary horizontal option to add primary axis title
  1. Click on the Add Chart Element option again.
  2. Hover the cursor over the Axis titles option and click on Primary Vertical to add an axis title for the vertical axis.
click on the primary vertical option
  1. Double-click on the axis titles box and change the default text to whatever you want it to be. You need to do this for both the primary and horizontal axis titles.

Add Axis Titles Using the Quick Layout Option in the Chart Designs Tab

Excel also has some inbuilt quick layout options that allow you to add multiple elements to your charts (including the axis titles).

Let me show you how it works.

Below I have a chart where I want to add the axis titles.

chart without axis titles

Here are the steps to do this:

  1. Select the chart in which you want to add the Axis titles.
  2. Click on the Chart Design tab in the ribbon.
chart design tab in the ribbon
  1. In the Chart Layout group, click on the Quick Layout option.
click on the quick layout option
  1. In the options that show up in the dropdown, select the layout where it shows you the axis titles in the chart. In my case, I will of with Layout 10 as it adds both the axis titles.
select the layout that has the primary and vertical axis titles

This method is great when you want to add multiple chart elements, and you have found a layout that does that for you.

For example, when I selected Layout 10 in step 4, apart from adding the axis titles, it also added the chart title, legend, and gridlines.

However, the drawback is that in case you have already customized your chart a bit, choosing a layout would remove your customizations and apply the customizations of the layout.

Advance Excel Charting Tip: When you insert a chart in Excel, use the layout options first to make all the customizations with a single click, and then remove anything that you do not want in the chart.

How to Remove Axis Titles from Charts

It’s pretty straightforward.

To remove the axis title from the chart, select the axis title box and hit the delete key.

Alternatively, you can right-click on the axis title box and then click on Delete.

Delete the Axis Title option

Linking Axis Title to a Cell in the Worksheet

Excel also allows you to link your Axis titles to a cell in the worksheet.

So instead of manually entering the text that should appear in the axis title box, you can link it to a cell, and the content of that cell would be displayed in the axis title box.

Let me show you how it works.

Below I have a chart where I’ve already added the axis titles, and I want these titles to be linked to the column headers of my dataset.

Chart with Axis Titles that need to be linked

So I want to link the horizontal axis title to cell A1 and the vertical axis title to cell B1.

Here are the steps to do this:

  1. Select the axis title that you want to link. In this case, I will go with the horizontal axis title.
Select the axis title box
  1. Click on the formula bar (to bring the cursor to the formula bar)
Click on the formula bar
  1. Enter equal to sign (=) in the formula bar
  2. Select cell A1. Doing this would automatically pick the reference of the selected cell and put this in the Formula Bar.
Select the cell you want to link
  1. Hit the Enter key

The above steps would link the horizontal axis title to the selected cell, and the content of the cell would now be visible in the axis title box.

Cell linked to axis title

Since the axis title box is now linked to the cell, the content of the box will update automatically in case you make any changes in the cell.

You can repeat the same process for the other axis title box as well.

Also read: How to Create Dynamic Chart Titles in Excel

Formatting Axis Titles in Excel Charts

Once you have added the axis titles to your chart, you can also customize them to match the color scheme and style of your charts.

Some common customizations that you may want to do include changing the text color or the box color of the axis titles, changing the alignment of the box, changing the color of the box, etc.

Let me show you the customization options you have and how to axis them.

Customizing Axis Titles Using the Format Axis Title Pane

To customize the formatting of the axis title boxes, right-click on the box that you want to format and then click on the Format Axis Title option.

Click on Format Axis Title box

This will open the Format Axis Title pane on the right, which will have all the formatting options available to you.

Format Axis title pane

In the Format Axis Title pane, you have two options:

  • Title Options
  • Text Options

In the Title Options, you can customize things such as the fill color of the box and the color/style of the border of the box. You can also set the vertical alignment and text direction.

In the Text Options, you can customize the text in the box – such as changing the color, adding an outline, or effects such as shadow or glow or edges, etc. You can change the alignment of the text within the box.

Customizing Axis Titles Using the Options in the Ribbon

While the Format Axis Title pane offers a whole gamut of customizations that can be done, in most cases, I need basic formatting options such as changing the color of the text or the outline border of the box, etc.

Most of these options are also available in the Home tab in the ribbon.

To make any of these customizations, select the axis title box and then select the option from the ribbon.

Formatting option of Axis title in the ribbon

For example, you can fill a color in the box by using the Fill color option or change the font color of the text by using the font color option. You can also change the font style by using bold or italics styling.

Resetting the Axis Title Format

In case you want to revert the changes and get the axis title box in the format that you got when you created the chart, you can do this by following the below steps:

  1. Right-click on the Axis title box
  2. Click on Reset to Match Style
Reset to match style option

In this article, I showed you three ways to insert axis titles in a chart in Excel. I also covered how to link the axis title box to a cell and make it dynamic so that any changes that are made to the cell would also be reflected in the axis title.

And finally, I covered how to format and customize the axis titles in Excel.

Other Excel articles you may also like:

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Sumit Bansal
Hello there! I'm Sumit Bansal, founder of trumpexcel.com and an Excel MVP. I started this website in 2013 with a simple goal: to share my love for Excel through easy to follow tips, tutorials and videos. I'm here to help you get the best out of MS Excel to save time and boost your productivity.

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