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How to group (two-level) axis labels in a chart in Excel?

For example you have a purchase table as below screen shot shown, and you need to create a column chart with two-lever X axis labels of date labels and fruit labels, and at the same time date labels are grouped by fruits, how to solve it? This article provides a couple of ways to help you group (two-level) axis labels in a chart in Excel.


Group (two-level) axis labels with adjusting layout of source data in Excel

Group (two-level) axis labels with Pivot Chart in Excel

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arrow blue right bubbleGroup (two-level) axis labels with adjusting layout of source data in Excel

This first method will guide you to change the layout of source data before creating the column chart in Excel. And you can do as follows:

1. Move the fruit column before Date column with cutting the fruit column and then pasting before the date column.

2. Select the fruit column except the column heading. In our case, please select the Range A2:A17, and then click the Sort A to Z button on the Data tab.
doc group axis labels 2

3. In the throwing out Sort Warning dialog box, keep the Expand the selection option checked, and click the Sort button.

4. In the fruit column, select the first series of same cells, says A2:A6, and click Home > Merge & Center. And then click the OK button in the popping Microsoft Excel dialog box. See below screenshots:
doc group axis labels 01doc group axis labels 02
And then the first series of adjacent cells filled by Apple are merged. See below screenshot:
doc group axis labels 03

5. Repeat Step 4 and merge other adjacent cells filled with same values.

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6. Select the source data, and then click the Insert Column Chart (or Column) > Column on the Insert tab.

Now the new created column chart has a two-level X axis, and in the X axis date labels are grouped by fruits. See below screen shot:

arrow blue right bubbleGroup (two-level) axis labels with Pivot Chart in Excel

The Pivot Chart tool is so powerful that it can help you to create a chart with one kind of labels grouped by another kind of labels in a two-lever axis easily in Excel. You can do as follows:

1. Create a Pivot Chart with selecting the source data, and:
(1) In Excel 2007 and 2010, clicking the PivotTable > PivotChart in the Tables group on the Insert Tab;
(2) In Excel 2013, clicking the Pivot Chart > Pivot Chart in the Charts group on the Insert tab.

2. In the opening dialog box, check the Existing worksheet option, and then select a cell in current worksheet, and click the OK button.

3. Now in the opening PivotTable Fields pane, drag the Date field and Fruit field to the Rows section, and drag Amount to the Values section.

(1) The Fruit filed must be above the Date filed in the Rows section.
(2) Apart from dragging, you can also right click a filed, and then select Add to Row Labels or Add to Values in the right-clicking menu.

Then the date labels are grouped by fruits automatically in the new created pivot chart as below screen shot shown:

Demo: Group (two-level) axis labels in normal chart or PivotChart

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  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Kathy K · 3 months ago
    Thank you! In order to save space, is it possible to only label the first and last date in the series? I've tried changing the "interval unit" setting under label, but it doesn't seem to have any effect on a multi-level chart. I also tried setting the middle date labels to spaces or blanks, but that completely confused excel.,
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      kellytte · 3 months ago
      Hi Kathy,
      There is another trick that can save space in the X axis in chart.
      Select the date cells in the source data, right click, and select Format Cells from context menu. And then customize the date format with the number formatting code m/d
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    aj · 1 years ago
    I am trying to make a graph but I am not able to display data as I need it.
    I have 5 columns of data. first 3 columns are identifiers (date, location, product), 4th and 5th columns are to compare the sales numbers in a graph. However when I select the columns I only get location as vertical text on horizontal axis and date and product data is showing as horizontal text and gets all scrambled.
    I tried changing the text direction but it did not work. How can I have date, location, product information next to each other for each date, displaying vertically under each comparison data?
    Thanks in advance for your help.
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      Tang Kelly · 1 years ago
      Hi aj,
      Which version of Excel are you using? And which chart type are you creating? In Excel 2013, select 5 columns, and then click Insert > Insert Column Chart > Clustered Column, the first 3 columns will be added as x axis automatically.
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      Michelle · 1 years ago
      I have this same problem. You can only rotate the upper level of labels. The 2nd level will always be Horizontal (or Vertical on the Y-axis). I can't figure a way to change it either.
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    GEC · 2 years ago
    merging cells makes the table un-usable. Might as well use powerpoint instead of a table.