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When you're creating a chart, Excel uses numbers on axes and it scales them automatically. In this particular chart here that shows data from rows 4 and 5 on the worksheet over between columns B and G, you can readily see the highest value here; the sales value for June is 330. On the chart the highest value shown is 350. Now if we alter the numbers and we happen to be using certain larger numbers and it depends upon the value of them, Excel will automatically re-scale the chart based on the data, and sometimes the interval as well.
The intervals here are 50. That's probably the reasonable interval. It's not too crowded. Makes the chart more readable, and it's accompanied by gridlines as well. I'm going to change the June value here from 330 to 335, not a big change. As I press Enter, watch the chart. The interval is still the same, 50, but now that chart tops off at 400. Now, rather than playing the game to see when this changes, you can bet that if I change this to what, 390, is it still going to keep the 400? Well, I think so, and you might want to experiment with that a little bit.
But I'm getting the point that you sometimes do want to control this yourself. And with 390 it jumps to 450, maintains the 50 interval. Let me take those numbers back again. Sometimes you have a rationale for saying, "On my chart I want more white space above the columns." Now you might be doing that because you want to put a box in here, perhaps a text box that explains something unusual about the data or something that's important to it. And sometimes you just like to look of it. Or maybe at other times you're trying to match up with another chart that shows similar data and its highest point is 450 or 500, something like that.
So, if you simply right-click on one of the axis numbers, you can go right into Format Axis. From the Layout tab, this will take considerably longer. I just want to point out to you that you can't get to this by way of a Layout tab, and I'll show you how cumbersome it is for this particular use of a feature on this tab. The Layout tab > Axes. This is a Vertical Axis, and although some of these choices occasionally might be what you need, let's just say right now we're not interested in that. How about More Primary Vertical Axis Options? And that takes us to this dialog box.
Once again getting here faster would simply be a right-click on these choices here and then Format Axis. So we see a Maximum and a Minimum, and let's just say that I want the maximum here to be 500. Here is the maximum. Override the automatic setting. Go to Fixed and let's just make this be 500. Now I could be making other choices here as well, and this will react. I might jump up here a moment earlier. Click here. Already the chart has reacted. Maybe I'll go back to Auto here. Sometimes you see the choices ahead of time. But if that's all the choice you'd make, you'd choose Close and see the difference.
Now that may or may not be what you wanted to do. You sometimes might want to change the interval. Maybe I'm thinking well, you know having these gridlines and numbers being every 100, that would be fine. So maybe another right-click here. I could have done this first time around of course. Let's just change the Major unit here to be fixed and make it to be 100. And of course sometimes you'll do this because you don't like what the automatic scaling is. This time I don't care a whole lot, but again, you have your reasons, and now we see what's happening here. So you've got control over this.
In the horizontal axis in this particular example, there is no real reason to change that. But similarly, with certain kinds of data, you want to make changes there as well, too, simply by right-clicking, going to Format Axis, and you have similar choices there with those kinds of axes, a different set of choices, and you can control a lot of variations there as well. So there certainly are times, and for a variety of reasons you might need to adjust the axis scaling in a chart; Excel provides you with numerous options.
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