Learn How to Show or Hide Chart Axes in Excel

Show/Hide Chart Axis in Excel
Show/Hide Chart Axis in Excel. © Ted French

An axis on a chart or graph in Excel or Google Spreadsheets is a horizontal or vertical line containing units of measure. The axes border the plot area of column charts (bar graphs), line graphs, and other charts. An axis is used to display units of measure and provide a frame of reference for the data displayed in the chart. Most charts, such as column and line charts, have two axes that are used to measure and categorize data:

  • the vertical axis - more commonly known as the y or value axis;
  • the horizontal axis - more commonly known as the x or category axis.

3-D Chart Axes

In addition to horizontal and vertical axes, 3-D charts have a third axis - the z axis - also called the secondary vertical axis or depth axis that allows data to be plotted along the third dimension (depth) of a chart.

Horizontal Axis

The horizontal x axis, running along the bottom of the plot area, usually contains category headings taken from the data in the worksheet.

Vertical Axis

The vertical y axis runs up the left side of the plot area. The scale for this axis is usually generated by the program based on the data values being plotted in the chart.

Secondary Vertical Axis

A second vertical axis—running up the right side of a chart—can be used when displaying two or more different types of data in a single chart. It is also used to chart data values.

A climate graph or climatograph is an example of a combination chart that makes use of a second vertical axis to display both temperature and precipitation data vs. time in a single chart.

Axes Titles

All chart axes should be identified by an axis title that includes the units displayed in the axis.

Charts without Axes

Bubble, radar, and pie charts are some chart types that do not use axes to display data.

Hide/Display Chart Axes

For most chart types, the vertical axis (aka value or Y axis) and horizontal axis (aka category or X axis) are displayed automatically when a chart is created in Excel.

It is not necessary, however, to display all or any of the axes for a chart. To hide one or more axes in the latest versions of Excel:

  1. Click anywhere on the chart to display the Chart Elements button—a plus sign (+) on the right side of the chart as shown in the image above,
  2. Clicking the Chart Elements button to open the menu of options;
  3. To hide all axes, remove the check mark from the Axes option at the top of the menu;
  4. To hide one or more axes, hover the mouse pointer on the far right end of the Axes option to display a right arrow;
  5. Click on the arrow to display a list of axes that can be displayed or hidden for the current chart;
  6. Remove the checkmark from the axes to be hidden;
  7. To display one or more axes, add checkmarks next to their names in the list.