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Change the labels in an Excel data series

The Chart Wizard in Excel may work a little too well at times, which is why you'll want to read this tip from Mary Ann Richardson. Learn how to change the labels in a data series so you have one set of information from multiple selections.

When you select data for an Excel chart before running the Chart Wizard, the wizard can usually distinguish which selected cells to chart and which not to use as data series labels. However, there are times when the Chart Wizard does not recognize a selection as labels for a data series.

For example, say you list the management positions for your company in A5:A14, and their corresponding salaries for 2004, 2005, and 2006 in B5:B14, C5:C14, and D5:D14, respectively. In B15:D15 you enter the total management salary expense for each year. You would like to chart the values in B15 through D15, but when you include the labels in B3:D3 in your selection, the Chart Wizard charts two data series instead of one. To correctly chart the salary expenses, follow these steps:

  1. Select B15:D15.
  2. Click the Chart Wizard button in the Standard toolbar.
  3. Click Next.
  4. Click the Series tab.
  5. Click the Window Shade button in the Category (X) Axis Labels box.
  6. Select B3:D3 to select the labels in your spreadsheet.
  7. Click the Windows Shade button in the Category (X) Axis Labels box.
  8. Click Next.
  9. In the Legend tab, clear the Show Legend check box.
  10. In the Titles tab, enter Total Annual Salary Expense in the Chart Title text box.
  11. Click Next and then Finish.

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